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Hide super-city overseas trip exposed

Ministers_Report.pdf
Ministers_Itinerary.pdf

10 December 2009

Hide super-city overseas trip exposed

Newly released documents detailing Local Government Minister Rodney Hide’s fact finding trip to the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States reveals that over twelve days away he undertook only 10 hours of meetings on Auckland governance, North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams said today.

“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,” Mayor Williams said.

“When you break it all down, the trip which is estimated to have cost over $100,000 for the Minister, his companion, and two staff members, bought the taxpayer around 19 hours of official meetings and discussions over 12 days, and Aucklanders can judge for themselves whether they got value for money.”

“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 percent 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.”

“Aucklanders are left with a 10 page Cabinet report that shows who Rodney Hide met with and why he wanted to meet with them, but all the information on what was discussed and more importantly what was learned from the people he met, which was said to be the purpose of taking the trip in the first place, has been deleted.”

“Judging by the contents of the ‘third Auckland bill’, which carries on the centralised commercial agenda for our communities and fails to empower the local boards in their own right as promised, it’s hard not to conclude the trip was a complete waste of time and money,” Mayor Williams said.

Mayor Williams said he believes the vast majority of Aucklanders have no problem what-so-ever with Ministers taking overseas trips to gain new ideas and fresh perspectives on important matters of public policy, providing they then are open and forthcoming with findings of their visits. So far we have learnt nothing from Rodney Hide's trip, and this certainly does not assist any constructive debate on the framework of the Auckland super city going forward.

“After seeing the heavily padded trip itinerary and the virtually blank trip report, many will question the wisdom of Rodney Hide’s overseas jaunt aimed at making the super-city better because the result is more likely to only intensify the public’s deep cynicism and resentment over his super-city reforms,” Mayor Williams said.

ENDS

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