For a government obsessed with optics, it beggars' belief that more thought wasn’t given to James Shaw’s decision to travel all the way to Scotland for a climate change conference in 8 weeks' time.
I mean, let’s get past the glaring carbon footprint of all that travel and look at the other hypocritical aspects of this.
This is a party who objected so strongly to Parliament being resumed in person that they refused to attend; such was their horror that travel should take place during Delta. That same sentiment seems to have conveniently been overlooked in this case.
Add to this, the fact that he will take up an MIQ spot which has magically appeared for him at the end of it all.
So that’s a spot he’s taking that could have gone to someone else. There are people in virtual queues for months on end with a variety of excellent reasons as to why they should get an MIQ spot, yet James Shaw just magically jumps the queue and gets one.
Optics? Not good.
But then, for a bright guy, James Shaw seems to make a lot of bizarre choices.
Remember the Green school debacle? That controversy raged last year after he supported handing millions of taxpayer dollars to a private "green school", much to the alarm of his own base. And surely that same base is aware that lowering carbon emissions is a tenet of Green party politics, as opposed to increasing them by zipping round the world for, of all ironies, a climate change conference?
On top of that, optics wise, is the fact that we have been locked down or closed in with shut borders for so long now, that it’s a rare day politicians rub it in our faces by gallivanting overseas. Trade Minister Damien O'Connor travelled to the UK and Europe this year, he’s the only one.
The PM was meant to go to Australia, but that trip got canned, and her upcoming sojourn to the UN in New York looks unlikely too. So why is James Shaw so special? Why does he deserve privileges here? How does he justify being only the second Minister to depart our borders since the government slammed them shut?
But actually, prior to them being shut, he was a big fan of the international travel too.
Data from 2019 showed Shaw spent more on international air travel than any other minister, more than even the Prime Minister. No other minister's international travel expenses came close to Shaw's total, it was reported at the time.
So, we know he likes a jet ride, and let’s be frank, like many of us he’s probably been itching to get on a plane and get somewhere. But you can’t have it both ways. It’s got a touch of Harry and Meghan about it. You can’t be an active and vocal campaigner against the stuff you then go and do.
It looks, and is, hypocritical.
Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.
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