The disclosure that another Cabinet member also went to the Rio Olympics sadly – and yet again – manages to raise many more questions than it does answers.
Pat Gordon Pamplin booked, on non-refundable tickets,a trip to the Olympics when she was Sports Minister before the May Cabinet shuffle that saw Sylvan Richards given the role.
So what questions? Well, here’s a few:
- Was the possibility of transferring the non-refundable tickets to Mr Richards examined? Government does so much business with the airlines I would have thought an approach, at least, would have been received favourably.
- How long did Pat Gordon Pamplin visit Rio for?
- Did she have any official duties while there. If so, what were they? Did they clash with the Minister’s?
- Why did Pat Gordon Pamplin think it was OK not to book tickets for her PS and to travel alone, in contrast to the current Minister?
- Did the two Ministers talk about their respective trips, if so when? If not, why not – the size of Cabinet is not so large that it means the two never meet or speak. (NB: if there was no communication, that in itself, speaks volumes and is rather worrying.) I think this is where a PATI request might be interesting. A PATI request on Mr Richards’s trip might also be more revealing.
- Could it not have been agreed (why wasn’t it agreed) that as Pat Gordon Pamplin was already going then there was no need for a second Minister to go?
- If Pat Gordon Pamplin managed to book before the Cabinet shuffle in May, why did it take so long for Mr Richards to notice that the Olympics were just around the corner?
We are still waiting for answers about Mr Richards’ trip as well – his itinerary and where he stayed. We’ve been told that he attended ‘several’ events involving Bermuda athletes, but any school pupil will tell you that several is ‘more than two, but not very many’, so we still need clarification. Where are the photo-ops? And not the ones I’ve already published.
A lot of people have asked why this is so important because the amounts are so small compared to the big picture.
Well, this Government preaches austerity – and that being the case, its Ministers, in particular, must practice what is being preached. ‘Rio-Gate’ (can’t resist sorry, we’ve not had a ‘gate’ for ages) shows a huge disconnect with the people, and will be seen by many as arrogance and a return to cookie-jar politics.
I did a podcast interview with Marta Dismont at The Family Centre who said families were still struggling with the effects of the recession. In the story, I wrote: Ms Dismont links the rise in neglect cases directly “to the conditions we are seeing in Bermuda”, “particularly the rise in unemployment among locals”.
We’ve had the same, or similar, messages from other charities as well.
It’s a simple fact that when the PLP blew a million on Beyoncé and when the travel budget seemed to have no limit, people’s wallets were flush. That is no longer the case and this Government would do well to remember – and respect – that.
Saying ‘well, the PLP did it’ does not matter anymore. (NB: I am not, in any way condoning, PLP spending. It was way out of order.)
I imagine the OBA spin doctors are scratching their heads on how to put a good spin on this story – which, as they say in the newspaper trade, still as legs especially if the above questions are posed.
Why does the Commission of Inquiry feel it necessary to include the airport development in their investigations?