Sports Minister Grant Robertson has come under fire after it was announced he would travel to Paris in support of the All Blacks for the Rugby World Cup final.
Robertson’s trip was approved by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and endorsed by Prime Minister-elect and National Party leader Christopher Luxon.
“I am delighted to be able to attend the Rugby World Cup final on behalf of the New Zealand Government,” Robertson said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The team is in top form to take on the Springboks, with both sides vying to win the cup for a fourth time.”
Robertson will depart for Paris on Thursday before returning next week.
But not everyone is sold on Robertson’s trip, with the AM hosts and the public criticising it.
AM discussed Robertson’s trip on the show on Thursday morning with AM host Ryan Bridge speculating it would cost tens of thousands of dollars.
“Is it worth him going? He’s an outgoing minister, we’re having a change of government, what is the point? Bridge questioned.
Fellow AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green also questioned what New Zealand would get out of the trip.
But newsreader Alice Wilkins said someone needs to be there to represent New Zealand but Bridge was quick to hit back saying “do they?”
“What about all the fans? What about the All Blacks representing us?” Bridge said.
The trip also raised questions about why a member of the National Party wasn’t going but Chan-Green said that could’ve been worse as “you’ve got stuff to get on with”.
“So I guess Grant Robertson isn’t tied up with that at the moment but I just wonder what are we going to get out of it,” she said.
Bridge came up with the suggestion of sending a deserving member of the public instead.
“I think what you should do is find somebody who is very deserving in the New Zealand public, who deserves to go more than an outgoing minister and give the ticket to them,” he said.
“Give them the flights, let the taxpayer pay for them to go. I think that would be a nicer idea.”
The conversation sparked an influx of emails to the AM team’s inbox, with one person saying New Zealand has a consulate general in Europe and an ambassador in Paris, so should’ve sent one of them instead.
“This is an outrageous waste of taxpayers money,” another person emailed in saying.
“There is little value in sending an outgoing finance minister to an international event,” another person said.
Chan-Green added Roberston knows the “state of the books, he knows that we surely can’t be spending this money”.
But added “in fairness” to Robertson, the trip has been signed off by Hipkins and Luxon.
Wilkins tried to find the positive in the trip saying she liked the idea of “jetting off to Paris at the moment”.
“It’s a nice last hurrah,” Wilkins said.