If you've ever wondered why our Parliament has such warm relations with similar institutions in the likes of France, Poland, Germany and Ireland, then wonder no longer.

It's all because our Parliament's father bear - David Carter - takes a handful of grizzlies off to places like that every year to strengthen ties.

And if you think it's nothing more than a fortnight's junket, then consider Carter's heartfelt explanation for the MPs going on the latest one. They've just had three weeks of hard toil, then they'll have to spend two weeks on a gruelling trip through Chile, Mexico and Argentina, with no days off at all before returning home on a weekend, and then having to be back in the bear pit by Tuesday, he tells us.

Oh woe is them!


They did the gruelling $138,000 European trip last year and four of them took their partners along for the ride but we're told it didn't cost you extra money because the poor souls traded in their business class tickets for bucket class, so their others halves could accompany them.

The rationale for travelling business class is because they have to hit the ground running when they arrive. You'd have to wonder then how those who cashed in their sleepers for buckets coped, although the New Zealand First MP Fletcher Tabuteau arrived before the others, sending a Facebook picture of he and his wife in the hellhole of Paris.

In reality these trips are more about clinking cocktail glasses and socialising rather than slogging.

And if you needed any proof of that, think about former MP Hone Harawira's casual approach to one of the European junkets fostering those closer relations, not with other MPs but with his missus. He went awol, skipping a meeting in Brussels to take his wife to Paris because they hadn't been before.

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Some previous travellers on the taxpayer carpet have even indicated they were about to retire, while some of the parties see it as a consolation prize for demotion.

Surely that's one of the reasons why the Nats are sending the likes of Maurice Williamson on the current one.

One trenchant critic of the trips is Act's David Seymour, who says they're a waste of money and reckons MPs earn enough to travel on their own account. He's putting his money where his mouth is by going to two international public policy conferences on his own tab. Obviously he knows how to have a good time.

But methinks he doth protest too much anyway. Being a party of one, chances of him getting on the Speaker's junket are remote, and given his criticism, the odds just reduced even more.