North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams has done us a favour by asking for, and then publishing, more details about ACT leader Rodney Hide’s overseas travels with that squash-playing sheila.
Williams is reported to have used the Official Information Act to winkle out the itinerary and Hide’s report to the Cabinet. He sent the stuff out with a press release yesterday.
“Aucklanders will be fascinated to learn that, according to the official trip diary, Rodney Hide spent around 10 hours on Auckland governance, three and a half hours on regulatory reform, four and a half hours on Act Party policy, one hour in media interviews, and seven and a half hours having breakfast and lunch with his tour party who accompanied him on the trip,” Mr Williams said.
Let’s be pricks and add that up.
Oh, yes. A grand tally of 19 hours work.
Ah, but then let the record show –
Mr Hide said it was not true that he only done 19 hours’ work.
In that case, of course, it seems he is unable to keep an accurate diary.
But let’s get back to the official papers.
They show that
Mr Hide spent four days travelling and had around 25 appointments. There was also the two days off in London for the wedding and a mostly free day in Los Angeles where Mr Hide is said to have visited a theme park.
Mr Williams said the visit cost $100,000, but Mr Hide provided papers that showed the budget was $50,000 and his office said this had been underspent.
The Cabinet paper gives sparse details of a range of meetings including one with London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Williams – who, let’s face it, has a political axe to grind as Hide sets about merging North City with other local body areas to form the Auckland supercity – is reported to be angry at deletions in the paper.
“To rub salt in the wound, Rodney Hide told Aucklanders on his return that ‘the reason for the trip was always work, and you’ll see from the Cabinet report of the trip the work that I engaged in’ but a glance at the official Cabinet trip report, also released, shows that around 80 per cent of the substantive content has been deleted, withheld on the grounds that the information is private and confidential and might damage international relations if released,” Mr Williams said.
Mr Hide said the deletions were made by foreign affairs officials because they include confidential advice.
So how has Hide responded to the more bothersome bits of Williams claims?
By playing the player, not the ball.
“What we know about Mayor Andrew Williams is that he opposes the one council for Auckland, so he has it made it his mission to hold me up. I’m focusing on getting the best results for Auckland,” Mr Hide said.
Hide also accuses Williams of “madness” (a different sort of madness, presumably, than the madness that resulted in Hide being driven by his balls instead of his brain in recent times).
Mr Williams said the itinerary showed Mr Hide undertook only 19 hours of meetings on the 12-day trip, which was a fact-finding mission for the Auckland Super City.
It was raised in Parliament by Labour MP Phil Twyford, and Mr Hide dismissed it as a product of Mr Williams’ “madness”.
Mr Williams told the Herald the jibe was linked to the “mad mayor of the North Shore” nickname he has been given by some right-wing bloggers.
Let’s also note at this juncture that Hide is claiming to have had 25 meetings, across seven days in four different cities.
But it was the telly that gave Alf the most bemusing insight into Hide’s aspirations.
ONE News has obtained the pitch that Rodney Hide made to the Prime Minister to get him to approve a controversial overseas trip with his girlfriend.
The bid includes meetings with Arnold Schwarzenegger and two famous British politicians. But the meetings did not take place.
Schwarzenegger is perhaps better known as a body building movie star but he is also Governor of California and Hide believed he could provide some tips on setting up Auckland’s super city.
So the Act leader and Local Government Minister wanted to meet Schwarzenegger on his overseas trip, accompanied by his squash star girlfriend Louise Crome.
Papers released to ONE News under the Official Information Act show Hide’s pitch for Prime Ministerial approval for the trip lists a meeting with Schwarzenegger as one of the top drawcards.
Oh, and Hide’s pitch to John Key included a meeting with British politician Peter Mandelson and one with the famous former Mayor of London, Ken Livingston.
But they never happened either.
What are we to make of all this?
Well, it makes Alf wonder deeply about Hide’s idea of good and bad government spending, which the short-arsed bugger is forever banging on about.
But fair to say, Hide has paid back more than $20,000 and apologised for using public money to take his girlfriend on the trip.