Barry Soper is Newstalk ZB's Political Editor

Barry Soper: Wining and dining in Washington DC

Actor Jon Voight and New Zealand Ambassador to the US Tim Groser at a Gala dinner in Washington. Photo /Joy Asico
Actor Jon Voight and New Zealand Ambassador to the US Tim Groser at a Gala dinner in Washington. Photo /Joy Asico

It shouldn't come as any surprise that our relatively new ambassador to Washington knows how to party.

As Climate Change and Trade Minister Tim Groser was forever being flushed out for credit card spending on liquor, even the shock spend of $6.70 on bottles of beer was disclosed.

Minibars were clearly a favourite for this former thespian. He once even spent $15 for shortening the arms of a silly shirt he was expected to wear for an official photograph in Peru. He also had it laundered for $27.

In Maui a couple of years ago he got out and about, with his ministerial credit card, hosting a couple of dinners for more than a thousand bucks a piece when he was oiling the wheels of trade, waving the Trans Pacific Partnership flag.

But before you begin choking on your cornflakes and spluttering into your milky tea, think about the job this man was required to do, living on a plane for several years and parachuting into one country after another.

If you think a New Zealand minister in this role should be asking his guests to pick up the tab then you don't think much of your country and the doors that can be opened over a beer or two.

Now he's on terra firma, living next door to the American Vice President in DC's diplomatic dress circle, Groser is bringing his well-honed art of winning friends and putting them under the influence of our blip on the radar screen that we proudly call home.

He threw a Donald Trump inauguration party that cost us more than $80K, or just over $250 a head for those who attended. It's been called a get together for D-list celebs by the penny pinching Taxpayers' Union.

But in reality there were Trump big hitters, like his Chief Strategist (yes he actually has one) Steve Bannon and our very own Kiwi collaborator Chris Liddell, who's very much on the Trump advisory team, along with senior politicians and a sprinkling of generals and business big wigs.

The official Wellington line is that it's the embassy's job to pursue New Zealand interests with the United States.

It's ironic that Tim Groser, the man who for several years pursued our main interest, getting a backdoor trade agreement with Uncle Sam through the Trans Pacific Partnership, was the party host.

Groser reflected the view of many when he justified the party saying very few people in the United States, let alone the diplomatic community, have any idea of who the administration are or who is deeply influential, which when it comes to Trump would seem to be something of an oxymoron.

- NZ Herald

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