Chester Borrows draws a long bow today.
Alf makes this observation while acknowledging that his judgement is steeped in envy, because he missed out on the junket that Borrows is now defending.
The best means of defence, as Chester clearly knows, is attack.
So he is sticking it into the media for making a fuss about the cost of the junket that took him and a gaggle of other MPs to bits of Europe.
He is saying this treatment of the Speaker’s delegation shows it takes New Zealand’s democracy too lightly.
Having returned from the two week trip during the weekend, Borrows told reporters that MPs had an important role in assisting countries where government was less stable, claiming New Zealand was “the longest serving democracy that exists”.
Dunno what the Greeks would make of that claim, bearing in mind their claim to have invented this democracy lark long ago.
Or the British, come to think of it.
Or the Americans.
Mind you, the Greeks have given it away on occasion over the centuries and preferred other forms of government.
But that’s to digress.
Let’s get back to the Stuff report:
Borrows was one of a group of MPs on the controversial trip to Europe, travelling to Poland, France, Britain and Ireland.
The trip had a budget of close to $140,000, almost $100,000 of which was for travel, with a number of the MPs on the trip believed to have downgraded tickets from business class to economy to take their partners along for free.
The Taxpayers’ Union called for the the “WAGs” (wives and girlfriends) of the MPs to stay at home, otherwise the trip appeared to be a junket rather than work. Executive director Jordan Williams said the downgrading of tickets undermined MPs’ claims that they needed to travel business class.
The State Services Commission said the “downgrading” by MPs would not be acceptable behaviour among public servants.
A number of mainstream commentators and bloggers dismissed the trip as a junket, although Kiwiblog’s David Farrar said it was “pretty standard practice”.
But what price can those carping tossers put on an MP’s education?
Chester is telling us he had learned “lots” on the trip which he believed represented good value for money for taxpayers.
“I learned familiarity breeds contempt around democracy, we take it very lightly around here. If you talk to people in Northern Ireland or the Eastern Bloc or Fiji for instance, who have had their democracy removed from them and had to fight to get it back, they actually give a stuff about this, even if people in New Zealand don’t. I think that’s pretty significant.”
Way to go, Chester.
Borrows, the Deputy Speaker and National MP for Whanganui said once or twice a month delegations from other countries came to New Zealand’s Parliament, to visit the Speaker, rather than the Prime Minister.
“These are countries who are in some way struggling with their own democracy, how to maintain that, and we’re the longest serving democracy that exists at the moment, because that wasn’t disrupted by the war and that sort of stuff,” Borrows said.
“What they’re interested in is how come you can have a minority government with a disparate bunch of representatives and a whole bunch of different creeds and ideologies and still maintain stability and certainty, and I think the [Press] Gallery and media treat that too lightly. Because you’re used to, pretty much, you’re used to giving us the fingers, rather than examining these issues with any level of scrutiny.”
Stuff points out it is unclear what definition Borrows was using in claiming New Zealand was the world’s longest serving democracy.
The United States, for example, has had presidential elections every four years since George Washington was elected the first President in 1788/89.
And an important component of the American system of government is the role of a free press.
The same goes for our country. Or should.
The Speakers Delegation was spending public money.
The money came from taxpayers.
The media brought Chester’s junket and this use of their money to the attention of those taxpayers.
It has now communicated to them his defence of the jaunt.
It remains to be seen whether they will be sold on all that pap about his education, especially in the light of his claim about our having the longest-serving democracy.
Maybe he is fishing for a trip to the US for further lessons.