Blair sells out after ticket prices slashed

By Elizabeth Binning

Tony Blair will address an audience of hundreds in Auckland tomorrow during a speaking tour that sold out once ticket prices were cut in half.

The former British Prime Minister stops in New Zealand for just a few hours as part of an "exclusive speaking tour" which starts in Melbourne today and finishes in Perth on Friday.

Tomorrow he'll fly into Auckland in the morning, drive straight to Eden Park and address hundreds of people who have paid up to $1500 each to hear him before flying to Brisbane.

Standard tickets, which include a gourmet meal, premium beverages, attendance at a pre-event cocktail party with canapes and a souvenir programme, had been selling for $1000 each, while VIP tickets that include a picture with Mr Blair, were going for $1500.

But, after a slow start tour promoter Max Markson decided to half the cost of the standard ticket to $495.

Last week he said he'd sold 350 places and had hoped to reach about 500 for the 900-capacity venue. Yesterday, Mr Markson said the event had sold out. He said people who had already bought standard tickets at full price had been offered free upgrades to VIP seats.

The speaking tour includes a 30-minute talk from Mr Blair about his insights and experiences in leadership, followed by 30 minutes of questions and answers. Mr Blair's memoir A Journey: My Political Life was released in September and made the New York Times Best Seller List within a week.

Global Peace and Justice Auckland members plan to protest outside the venue.

"The visit is touted as 'an audience with Tony Blair - lessons in leadership, negotiation and innovation', but it should be called 'supporting a war criminal - lessons in lying, deceit and mass murder'," the group said.

The protest will call for Mr Blair to be "put on trial for war crimes relating to the lies and deception used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq where up to a million innocent civilians have been killed".

"The justifications used for the invasion have since been shown to have been lies, lies and more lies."

Mr Markson said he was aware of the protest plans but had no comment to make besides saying it was "a free, democratic society".

- NZ Herald

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