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Guy Fawke's Day Proves Explosive One For Rodney Hide

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Nov 6 NZPA - Guy Fawke's Day was politically explosive for ACT leader Rodney Hide's with two crackers exploding in his face.

The day began with Mr Hide apologising for ripping into Prime Minister John Key's performance and mocking National ministers to ACT supporters.

This followed Mr Key's defending Mr Hide for using a parliamentary perk to take his girlfriend on a trip to London and North America.

Just hours after the apology for attacking Mr Key, TVNZ revealed more details about his trip saying it coincided with his girlfriend's brother's wedding near London.

Mr Hide had said he had taken squash player Louise Crome with him on the fact-finding trip to keep his relationship together.

TVNZ reported he and Ms Crome had timed the trip and taken the weekend off in London to attend her brother's wedding.

Mr Hide said the main reason for his trip was work and the Cabinet paper he wrote on the issue showed that.

TVNZ said the trip -- which went on to Canada and the United States flying business class and staying in five star hotels -- cost about $50,000.

Mr Hide's office told TVNZ that visiting London was an essential part of the fact-finding trip and that no extra taxpayers' money had been used to attend the wedding.

Mr Hide used his Parliamentary Service travel budget to pay for his girlfriend, getting around a ruling by Mr Key that Ministerial Services money could not be used for such trips during the recession.

Mr Key said if ministers want to take spouses they should pay for them, but on Monday he defended Mr Hide's right to use the MP's perk that was available to him.

After that defence from Mr Key, Mr Hide, a minister outside Cabinet, told a Christchurch breakfast meeting the prime minister "doesn't do anything" and was highly regarded, while "ACT did everything and we are hated".

He was also amazed at how much he could get through Cabinet, because "you turn up with your papers" and "they are too busy with their own stuff they're not bothered".

Mr Hide apologised.

"I have the highest respect for the Prime Minister, and I enjoy an excellent working relationship with him and his Cabinet colleagues."

A spokesman for Mr Key said: "We accept the apology and that is the end of the matter".

At a $45 a head ACT fund-raising breakfast, a Press newspaper reporter heard Mr Hide tell guests that Mr Key received public acclaim while doing little.

All Mr Key had done was the cycleway, Mr Hide said. "It's amazing."

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English came to his leader's defence.

"I talk with and work with John Key every day and he is the hardest working minister in the Cabinet," Mr English said.

While he thought Mr Hide was also a good worker, as leader of a small party he was seeking attention.

Mr Hide also apologised to ministers.

"I would like to apologise to the Prime Minister and my Cabinet colleagues for the comments... This was light-hearted banter at an ACT party function and taken out of context."

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