A $155 bottle of Bollinger champagne bought by then Consumer Affairs Minister Judith Tizard during a dinner with Australian ministers was purchased as a matter of national pride, Ms Tizard says.
The champagne, bought at the upmarket Cin Cin On Quay harbourside restaurant, was one of the more extravagant items on Ms Tizard's credit card records, made public a week ago.
She told the Herald she hosted a dinner for Australian ministers and officials after a conference on consumer issues in May 2008.
One of the Australian ministers had just announced her retirement, and an Australian staffer had just heard she was going to be a grandmother.
"I asked them what they wanted to drink and one of them said champagne. My recollection is that Bollinger was the cheapest on Cin Cin's menu."
Ms Tizard, who had hepatitis at the time and was not drinking alcohol, said she was going to pay for the champagne, but was told by her own staff she could put it on her card.
"I was hosting a dinner. I didn't want New Zealand to be seen fussing about what were small issues."
"I didn't want New Zealand to be seen fussing about what were small issues.". That, mote than anything we've heard or read this week, sums up what is bad about the ministerial credit card scandal, and it cuts across political lines.
It reminds us of the Parable of the Talents, where Jesus told of the master saying to his servant "'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things." If our MP's and especially ministers have such a cavalier attitude to the nickel and dime stuff, can we trust them to be good stewards of a multi-billion dollar economy?
But back to Ms Tizard, and the title of this post. What's wrong with the local produce? Ought not a Minister of Consumer Affairs be showcasing local produce? We reckon so, and will leave this for you to reflect on:
Adele Le Brun, who with husband Daniel Le Brun runs the No 1 Family Estate winemaking business in Marlborough, said there were many Kiwi wines that would taste better than Ms Tizard's expensive French option.
"We have some terrific wines in New Zealand like Pelorous, Deutz - and ours of course," she said.
"In a blind tasting the Kiwi stuff is right up there with say the French stuff," she said.
"We should be very proud of Kiwi wines."
Indeed we should; especially when it's a "matter of national pride", eh Judith!