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This week's revelations about the Government's new BMW limousines prompted an outpouring of somewhat forced outrage.

In reality, only those prone to a bad case of envy would say the transport provided for ministers and dignitaries should not reflect their standing.

Similarly, few, if any, ministers or dignitaries would actually dislike being chauffeured around in the most modern and prestigious of cars. Throw in the type of deal that the Government undoubtedly received from the German car-maker and there was nothing here to create more than a storm in a teacup.

Yet if the Government has no reason to be apologetic about the limousines, it could feel aggrieved about a process that allowed the Department of Internal Affairs to sign the deal before telling its minister.

The Prime Minister's admission that he first heard of the purchases from his chauffeur highlighted a singular lack of perspicacity within that department. While it had authority to approve the purchase because it cost less than $15 million, senior bureaucrats should have recognised the sensitivity of the issue.

This failing laid the Government open to unwarranted criticism. As with the previous Administration's initial purchase of 34 BMWs three years ago, it is undoubtedly the recipient of an excellent deal.

The Government suggests, indeed, that it is saving more than $2 million by replacing the fleet after three years, rather than keeping it for five. And it is providing ministers and dignitaries with nothing more than is right and reasonable.