Red Alert

What were the other 3 trips?

Posted by on April 24th, 2011

John Key would have us believe that his jaunts on military planes and helicopters aren’t among the ‘nice to haves’ that Bill English says we’ll all have to learn to live without, but are essential to his ability to carry out his duties as Prime Minister. If that’s the case, then he won’t have any problem issuing a full list detailing his use of airforce planes and helicopters, including the important matters of state that he was attending to that justified their use.

Stuff reported last week that Key has used the helicopter four times in the past 3 weeks alone, including the now infamous trip from the V8 supercars to the golf club. So what were the other three trips? Looking on Key’s Facebook page, the possibilities are endless. Did he use Airforce helicopters to visit the Timaru skateboard park? Perhaps he used them to make a ‘cameo appearance’ at the NZ Shearing Champs in Te Kuiti?

The PM and other Ministers should be able to use the airforce where it is necessary to carry out their official duties. But there is a pretty clear distinction between attending to official matters of state and using them to jet between photo-ops that are clearly little more than campaigning.

Every quarter Parliament and Ministerial Services issue a breakdown of spending on air travel by MPs and Ministers, but those figures don’t include the use of military aircraft. That’s an anomaly that needs to be fixed. As a general rule, I believe that use of military planes and helicopters by VIPs should be disclosed and the public should be able to judge whether the matters that they were attending to justified their use.

Meantime John Key and his Cabinet should start practicing what they preach and stop splashing taxpayer cash on photo-ops for the PM. At the last election John Key chartered a plane so that he could flit from one photo-op to the next. He should stick to that approach rather than suck military resources into his campaign machinery.

42 Responses to “What were the other 3 trips?”

  1. Spud says:

    [Spud – please don’t clog up the comment feed with smiley faces that have no comments attached to them. By all means engage in the debate though – Chris]

  2. Spud says:

    Agreed, some transparency around the joyrides would be good. 😳

  3. Oliver I says:

    Are they charged to the PMs travel budget, or are they charged to the military training budget, the one that would be expensed regardless of the PM being on the flight.

  4. darrenw says:

    This is an ever bigger non-issue than the price of milk debate. The cost would be incurred by the taxpayer anyway as training hours. Building in VIP transport logistics enhances the training. This isn’t going to close the gap in the polls Chris – and even the dodgy SST one has bad news for Labour today – 23.7%, ouch!

  5. Spud says:

    @Chris – just want to explain, they were angry faces – I was trying to make a picture in support of your post, but haven’t mastered it yet. :-(

  6. ak says:

    You mean that poll in the SST that reads “…the gap between the two potential governments narrows to 3.7%”, darrenw? That one? The one that also shows that if the MP support swings it’s neck-and-neck? This far out from the election and with ACT in vicious internal meltdown as we speak?

    Ouch, indeed, Mr little w. Where’s your wee cobber Monotony-Pollgloat all of a sudden?

  7. Oliver I says:

    The Horizon poll is online and no one takes it seriously.

    But to stay on topic, does the use of the iroquois come from Vote Defense force (i.e. it will be used for regardless) or Vote Ministerial Services?

    Also, are the reports of the use of the RNZAF aircraft accurate when they say that usage was higher under the previous Labour administration? and, as Kerre Woodham put it “Helen Clark was not averse to making use of the airforce aircraft when she found herself stranded.”?

  8. darrenw says:

    @ak – off topic but @Oliver puts it correctly – the Horizon poll is so bad no statistician is willing to back it. Not even I really believe labour will poll as low as 23.7%. The best polling trend is to average the TV3 and TV1 polls which makes it a 15 point win to National and no need for Act.

  9. Frontrower says:

    Maybe while he was in the chopper he could have donated to Labour’s stop signs –
    Thanks for the suggestion, and the reminder to others, but for the record Key didn’t. Trevor

  10. Axis says:

    Was Key stranded at the V8s after his photo op? I missed that, what happened?

    How many times has Key been late for a function that the GG was attending over the past two years?

    I wonder how many times Helen Clark used an RNZAF Iroquois to fly between a photo op and a dinner at her golf club?

    And, I wonder why the RNZAF would have spent the fuel to fly to Hamilton on that day if Key wasn’t going down for a campaign stop? I hear fuel costs are skyrocketing.

  11. reid says:

    are the reports of the use of the RNZAF aircraft accurate when they say that usage was higher under the previous Labour administration?

    Yes we’d better remember to include the cost of that Orion flight to Australia to pick up Clark and also that time when the Labour MP’s asked Harry to whistle up a flight for them from Ohakea one windy day when their Air NZ plane was forced to land there, along with all the other passengers, who I guess eventually ended up taking the bus, one assumes.

  12. reid says:

    Oh and don’t forget about the one where Clark couldn’t fly from Wgtn due to wind so got the limo to drive to Ohakea then picked up an Air Force plane specially for her, just so she could speak to the greypower people somewhere down south.

  13. ghostwhowalksnz says:

    Its laughable that the air force would be doing the hours training anyway. While this may be true for the Beechcraft which is specifically a multi engine trainer for larger planes like Hercules, Orion, its laughable for the Iroquis which is using for carrying troops, lifting suplies etc. Unless the PM is climbing down a rope and the end of the journey, then the VIP flying is taking the pilots away from their real job.
    Then there is the cost, its a 10 seat chopper. If a helicopter is neeed why dont they hire a 4 or 6 seater at one third of the cost.
    Then there is the overseas flights , generally this is not a problem to use the 757 as for various reasons commercial flights are generally chosen for convenience ahead of the airforce.

  14. Draco T Bastard says:

    The cost would be incurred by the taxpayer anyway as training hours.

    word deleted TrevorYou do not put the Prime Minister of a country on an aircraft with trainee pilots nor do you take them out on training missions with the airforce.

  15. Oliver I says:


    So your contention is that the Rotary Wing Transport Force shouldn’t train. Nice.

    Seems silly to say it, but flying a helicopter is different to driving a car… just say’n…

    Also, because they already own them, Goff purchased them in 2004. Why hire what you already own?

  16. Oliver I says:


    So your contention is that the Rotary Wing Transport Force shouldn’t train. Nice.

    Seems silly to say it, but flying a helicopter is different to driving a car… just say’n…

    Also, because they already own them, Goff purchased them in 2004. Why hire what you already own?

  17. Oliver I says:

    @Draco – Didn’t know you were an expert in the way iroquois pilots trained.

  18. David says:

    Aside from the 1% of people who actually care is there nothing else to talk about. Helen Clark used the air force and so she should considering her position and how busy she was running the country. I wouldnt want her stuck in endless traffic jams when her time would be much more productive interacting and supporting NZ events. Smile and Wave is no different, ridiculous moaning about the leader of the country using different travel options.
    Perhaps if Key hadnt signed us up to the stupid ETS the trip might have been a bit cheaper.

  19. Usage of military aircraft by govt VIPs has increased considerably in recent times. The Nats are citing high usage in 2003/04, which is a bit of a non-comparison.

    In that year the VIP flying hours included flying 30 Korean War vets to the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice, flying 52 WWII vets to Italy for a 60th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony at Casino, flying aid to the Solomons, and flying to Afghanistan.

    All in a different league to flying the PM between the V8 Supercars and his golf club I would have thought.

  20. reid says:

    Usage of military aircraft by govt VIPs has increased considerably in recent times.

    Chris do you think its possible the two earthquakes have had anything at all to do with this or not really?

  21. Monty says:

    maybe also Pike River? This is such a storm in a tea-cup by an increasingly desperate Party trying to get something on John Key. it has not worked in the past, and will not work this time. next you will be telling us John Key should be paying for his wife’s half of the travel costs for the current official trip to Willys and Katies wedding? Is it not of concern to you that the media have given your lot a decent beating over this?

    (PS knowing John Key he probably is personally paying for his wife’s travel)

  22. Oliver I says:

    @Chris, if the VIP transport was using training hours that would have been expensed regardless what is the net cost to taxpayers?

  23. Reid/Monty – As I have said above, Key should release the full list of flights and let people decide whether they are warranted. I don’t think flying from the V8s to the golf is a good use of military resources, but you obviously do, that’s your call.

    Oliver I – Are you suggesting that all airforce training hours should be used to fly VIPs around the country? Could save a lot on AirNZ fares, but not sure we’d have a very well trained airforce at the end of it?

  24. Oliver I says:

    @Chris – no most semi alert people would have said that if there is an allocation for training (including VIP transport) which gets expensed regardless (they go up with puppets if the VIP isn’t there) then taking the PM to an official event was a obvious forward use of resources. As well as giving the crew a real pep up.

    In response to your last point, I didn’t know how extensive your training with iroquois air training was, you should have said you know how to set the training better than other pilots.

  25. reid says:

    Chris thanks for your reply but the question was do you think it’s possible the two earthquakes and Pike River have had anything at all to do with this recent increased usage?

    It’s either a yes, or it’s a no.

    Which of those two choices is it?

    BTW, there is no third alternative.

  26. bbfloyd says:

    after reading a selection of the comments, i’m now convinced that this is an issue that needs airing publicly..

    if the only two arguments/excuses being offered up as a counter to what looks suspiciously like provable fact, are that “labur was worse”, and “it saves money”, then it’s a default win for the good guys.

  27. PeteG says:

    PM is a very demanding job with a lot of travel involved. An efficient means of getting around is essential.

    It’s fine to examine what is appropriate means of transport for the PM. As part of that it’s also valid to compare with past usage to see if needs are changing and if potential misuse is becoming more or less prevalent.

  28. tracey says:

    Has the PM told the Minister of Transport that traffic on our roads is so bad on a sunday that all the “more roads” strategy isnt working and we need an alternative.

    From the V8’s to the royalising of a golf club, yup the PM sure is taking the stagnation of the economy seriously.

  29. ianmac says:

    For goodness sake. Put the Reid/Monty folk to rest. Ask the PM to explain the 4 uses in April. I am sure that John has a perfectly good explanation. And nothing to prevent his being open. Unless he was on an anti-terrorist mission to save us all?

  30. Mac1 says:

    PeteG, being PM is an arduous job all right, needing Air Force transport from photo opportunities with racing bimbos to putting on the nose bag with the GG at the Royal Yacht Club, “And I’m pleased to announce ekscherly that we are giving $30 million dollars to our fellow yachties to swan about an American harbour”.

    A yachting analogy with John Key has some merit. We had Jim Bolger as The Great Helmsman, but with Key as The Great Trimmer, my fear is who is the tactician and who is ‘ekscherly’ at the helm.

    We know Brash and Banks want to be in the support boat, with Tariana and Pita paddling behind in the wake. Peter wouldn’t go to sea lest a sea breeze disturb the coiffure. And below the surface, lurking, the great Grey Shark, Winston………

  31. Spud says:

    @Monty – Being the PM’s buddy I’m sure you’re right about him paying for his wife! 😀

  32. George says:

    Do you guys have a special slaughter house where you create all these dead horses you keep flogging?

  33. Mac1 says:

    You’re right about the slaughter house, George. These things do have the stench of corruption about them.

  34. tracey says:

    George do you have a special glass house with windows which dont break as you chuck stones?

  35. Mac1 says:

    Tracey, no, the stones bounce back and like the thicko on You-tube trying the old brick through the plate glass window routine, he smacks himself on the head with the ricochet.

  36. George says:

    Didn’t think I’d thrown any stones in the sense that Tracey and Mac are suggesting, but I’m sure someone keeps copious records and can come up with something which fits into this category from 18 months ago…

    These issues are trivial, and the current Labour Party obsession with this sort of stuff suggests, rightly or wrongly, that the party itself is consumed by trivia. And also that it has nothing more weighty with which to occupy itself.

    From a non-partisan perspective it’s not a good look.

  37. Mac1 says:

    Are you saying you’re non-partisan, George?

  38. George says:

    Not at all.

    I just know from bitter experience that it’s easy to take the eye of the ball and engage is the sort of points scoring that turns off the non-partisan.

  39. George says:

    Anyone still think that this will resonate with more than a few die hard Labour supporters?

  40. tracey says:

    “but I’m sure someone keeps copious records and can come up with something which fits into this category from 18 months ago…” That’s useful to know George, that you have never and will never use, as an argument for support of the government anything the last labour Govt did, given it’s nearly three years ago.

  41. Craig says:

    I was in the air force when HC was at the helm and I can assure you her use of the 757s was discussed – particulalry post strike wing decision.
    Bottom line is that the PM is entitled to travel by military transport as required.
    Labour DESPERATELY needs to get our of the minor issues and concentrate on getting some serious issues on the table. Too much drivel is getting needless profile.