Wednesday, December 23, 2009

No mercy for Lockwood

Last month, Speaker of the House Lockwood Smith threatened the parliamentary press gallery, saying that kick them out of their offices and instead treat them as lobbyists if they kept publishing stories about crooked politicians rorting the system. Today, the gallery got their revenge, highlighting his all-expenses-paid trip to India with his partner. You give it out, you get it back...

But while it may be satisfying, the story is actually a beat-up. Smith's travel is entirely legitimate. He's going there for a Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth, a bi-annual get together which fosters stronger relations and information exchange among Commonwealth parliaments. The gallery will no doubt sneer at this - but I think such gatherings are worthwhile; we learn about parliamentary practice from other countries, and they learn from us. Yes, he gets to take his partner with him - but given the pressures on MP's families caused by them having to work in Wellington while representing their electorates, I don't have a problem with that. And if the gallery do, they should actually make that argument, rather than trying to smear all travel by MPs as a rort.