JAMES BARNETT

Clark finally concocts Las Vegas answers

She took her time but we have finally got some answers to Rodney’s questions about Winston’s junket to the money laundering capital of the world Las Vegas.

Question: What was the Minister’s itinerary and what was the cost broken down by flights and accommodation and other expenses for his trip to Europe in April and May last year for the Anzac Day commemorations and European Union Business as described in the Herald on Sunday 14 September 2008 and what were the places visited each day?

Minister: Rt Hon Helen Clark

Date Lodged:15/09/2008

Answer Text: An itinerary for the travel is attached. Airfares for the Minister and accompanying party were $57,357 and other costs, including accommodation, were $36,656.70.

Question: Did the Minister pay directly for his flight from Berlin to Las Vegas for the Oscar de la Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather fight and then to return to his official itinerary as described in the Herald on Sunday 14 September 2008 or did he reimburse either Ministerial Travel or Foreign Affairs; if so, when was the reimbursement made?

Minister: Rt Hon Helen Clark

Date Lodged:15/09/2008

Answer Text: I am advised that no reimbursement was made to Ministerial Services nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as neither agency paid for the flights referred to.

Oh dear, but Winston has said to reporters that he repaid it, looks like another pork pie from Winston Raymond peters, 63, List MP of no fixed abode. Questions still remain over who actually did pay for his junket. We now know it wasn’t Winston.

Question: Did the Rt Hon Winston Peters upon appointment as a Minister out the worksheet of questions about financial interests as set out in clause 2.58(a) of the Cabinet Manual, and if not, why not?

Minister: Rt Hon Helen Clark

Date Lodged:03/09/2008

Answer Text: Mr Peters was appointed in October 2005. Following his appointment Mr Peters, like the other new Ministers, met with the former Secretary of the Cabinet to discuss his financial interests.

The worksheet referred to in paragraph 2.58(a) of the Cabinet Manual 2008 was developed following the establishment of the revised Ministers’ interests regime in December 2006. In accordance with the regime, all Ministers received the worksheet in June 2007 and May 2008. It was also provided on appointment to all Ministers appointed since the regime was established.

All Ministers then returned an acknowledgement form stating that they had considered their personal interests in light of their ministerial responsibilities, and had sought advice where they identified any potential conflict of interest or perceived conflict of interest.

Oh dear! Will the man ever stop lying.

Thoughts on Fitna

In a speech at Toronto University a few years back, Christopher Hitchens gave a rather succinct and eloquent summary the meaning of free speech, saying that it is not just the right of the person who is speaking to be heard, it is the right of everyone in the audience to hear. Every time you deny someone the right to speech, you make yourself a prisoner to your own action because you deny yourself the right to hear something. In all cases of free speech, your own right to listen is as much involved as the right of others to speak.

Or as John Stewart Mill said – if all in society were agreed on the truth and beauty and value of one proposition, all except one person, it would be most important, in fact it would become even more important, that that one heretic be heard, because we would still benefit from his perhaps outrageous or appalling view.

That is why I’m outraged at this response to Fitna from the Slovenian presidency of the EU:

Slovenia, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said it supported the Dutch government’s position and believes the film does nothing to promote dialogue among religions.

“The European Union and its member states apply the principle of the freedom of speech which is part of our values and traditions. However, it should be exercised in a spirit of respect for religious and other beliefs and convictions,” the Slovenian presidency said in a statement.

“Mutual tolerance and respect are universal values we should uphold. We believe that acts, such as the above-mentioned film, serve no other purpose than inflaming hatred.”

Who the fuck are they to tell anyone how best to “exercise” free speech? The purpose of free speech is not that popular, consensus views in respect for religious and other beliefs and convictions may be expressed freely but that those directly opposite to them may be.

I don’t completely endorse Wilders’ film for reasons I outlined here but is a damn fine example of the sort of speech that needs to be protected. It is a provocative contribution to what should be an active and open debate on the issue of Islamic immigration and integration in Europe.

The implication made by the EU is that we should self-censor out of respect for other view points. I find that sort of pandering grossly offensive. Who here thinks they are too stupid, too gullible or too fragile to hear what Geert Wilders has to say and would prefer if he took the advice of the EU and denied his own beliefs? I hope no one.