Hooton on Las Vegas

Matthew Hooton blogs some useful info on the Peters trip to :

The Foreign Minister has confirmed that he made the “sidetrip” when he was in Berlin entroute to Singapore, so some “sidetrip” it must have been.

You can fly from Berlin to Singapore, via Frankfurt, on Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines for the discounted Business Class fare of around NZ$7730.50.  (I don’t know why on earth the HoS would assume, as it did, that Peters would fly economy – he was meant to be working on this trip, remember.)  It is quite an efficient way of getting from Berlin to Singapore, taking a total of around 14 hours.

In contrast, getting even from Berlin to Las Vegas is considerably more arduous, taking at least 16 hours, and requiring at least two stops.  Getting from Las Vegas to Singapore can also be difficult, taking almost 24 hours on United Airlines.  Book Business Class Berlin/Las Vegas/Singapore on United Airlines and it will set you back around $15,500.

To be square with the taxpayer, it seems the Foreign Minister would have had to pay about $8,000 for the tickets alone (and god knows what sort of condition he would have arrived in, in Singapore, after flying halfway around the world and stopping over in Las Vegas for a fight, but he is known for his resilience.)

That is a very expensive diversion indeed.

The average ticket price for the fight was said to be over US$1,300.  So the total cost of the Foreign Minister’s “sidetrip”, paid by him personally, would have been over NZ$10,000.

I hope he enjoyed himself for that amount.  He must be a big boxing fan.

A huge fan.

We must take the Foreign Minister at his word that he personally paid this ten grand.  It would put the whole matter to rest to see the receipts.  And also the dates on them.

Yep that is all that is needed. Just as all Brian Henry needs to do is produce a phone log showing his multiple calls to Owen Glenn.

And it would be also interesting to know if the Prime Minister approved the sidetrip and knew how it was to be financed.  From my memory working for the Trade Minister in the 1990s, prime ministers have to approve all ministerial travel, including sidetrips.  This remains part of the Cabinet Office Manual:

“2.113 Subject to parliamentary or portfolio requirements, and with the prior approval of the Prime Minister, Ministers may occasionally extend overseas visits outside the formal itinerary for personal reasons, provided no additional costs are incurred by the government as a result.

“2.114 Ministers may make personal visits overseas if they obtain the Prime Minister’s prior approval, which will be subject to obtaining leave to be absent from the House. Ministers must also obtain the agreement of another Minister or Ministers to act during such periods of absence. (See paragraphs 2.39 – 2.42.) The Cabinet Office should be advised of any such arrangements.”

Well maybe Helen can clear this all up for us. She would have approved it. As Matthew says this may all be a load of nonsense. So best to expose it for the nonsense it is as soon as possible.

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