We used to get outraged as a nation when our politicians took diabolical liberties with the public purse. There were Tuku’s undies, Shane Jones’s porn movies and Clayton Cosgrove’s amazing ‘bad luck’ with luggage that saw him getting five new suits on the taxpayer. Then there are the planes and helicopters that routinely landed Winston Peters, Helen Clark, John Key and Jacinda Ardern in hot water.

Helen Clark famously took an RNZAF jet to Australia only to be boycotted by ground staff as a result of the Ansett implosion. John Key had the ignominy of flying in a C-130 to Nausori airport near Suva only to be met by Bainimarama, who gave him a good scolding. Then there was Jacinda Ardern and her trips that saw more breakdowns of our clapped-out fleet of air force planes, on her trip to Antarctica, in the USA and in Australia.

What on earth was Chippy going to do to trump all that?

Why, take two planes, d’uh! But wait, here’s the Herald running the spin for the PM:

The Prime Minister’s office has defended sending a backup Defence Force plane for Chris Hipkins’ trip to China after criticism from National and Act over emissions – the latter also calling the fleet “decrepit” – saying it was warranted in case of a breakdown and only travelled as far as the Philippines.

It comes after former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had to contend with a series of breakdowns in her time – which also occurred during former Prime Minister John Key’s tenure – raising questions about bringing forward the current replacements schedule, set to occur between 2028 and 2030.

Hipkins touched down in Beijing in the early hours of this morning, beginning a highly-anticipated week-long tour of China, which includes a meeting with President Xi Jinping.

The Herald, which is travelling with the delegation, reported today there were two NZ Defence Force Boeing 757 planes on the runway during a stopover in Manila, Philippines, en route to China.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon said Hipkins should not have taken two planes and, along with Act, criticised what he saw as an unnecessary burning of fuel and associated carbon dioxide emissions. Act leader David Seymour said it was emblematic of an “embarrassing” and “out-of-date” air fleet.

“New Zealand’s embarrassingly ancient Defence Force planes are so decrepit that the PM has to bring a spare in case one of them breaks down on a stopover,” Seymour said.

“The emissions created by taking the extra plane is the equivalent of driving a Ford Ranger the distance of a trip to the moon three times.”

The Herald can confirm these calculations and also that they were based on a return trip to Manila and Australia.

NZ Herald

Somewhat, surprisingly, the Herald didn’t answer their headline in the article with ‘because he has taken leave of his senses and thinks that pissing off the NZ public is a vote-winning strategy’.

Surely flying commercial would have been far cheaper than the huge costs associated with two B-757s and their poor fuel economy.

What genius in the PM’s department thought that this was ever going to fly?

Nothing says ‘I’m out of touch’ like taking two very expensive jets just in case one breaks down.

Nothing says our air force is rubbish like having to have back-up planes flying halfway around the world to deliver Chris Hipkins to an insult by the Chinese at the airport, where he was met by a low ranking official, not the Foreign Minister or even the Prime Minister. If MFaT protocol staff weren’t whispering in Hipkins’s ear about that slap in the face then they weren’t doing their job.

Hipkins, for his part, has just slapped the long-suffering taxpayer in the face by arrogantly taking two jets instead of flying commercial.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news,...