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Friday’s “jetgate” debate was dominated by the Opposition Progressive Labour Party which contended that Government had breached the Ministerial Code of Conduct when three Ministers, including the Premier, allowed themselves to be flown by private jet to Washington DC for a five-hour meeting, where they spent two nights — all at the expense of a group of investors.

The trip happened in March, but it only came to light when the story broke last week. Here, politics reporter

Ayo Johnson has compiled a few excerpts from the Motion to Adjourn debate.

Marc Bean, Opposition Leader

“How can you say we have all these investors — we still haven’t seen the 2,000 jobs yet — but we have all these investors, yet you are going to compromise potential relationships by taking trinkets from one group of investors. That’s not leadership. That’s not governance. Its shameful.”

“If it weren’t a negotiation, what was the purpose of the AG being there?”–

Michael Scott, Opposition backbencher

“However attractive the objective of saving the taxpayer money, however attractive the idea of floating around at 30,000 feet in a jet is to quickly facilitate a meeting, Ministers, and particularly the top law officer of the country, ought to guide the Government against putting ourselves in this compromising position because it results in the ability for someone to cry foul and say ‘this has the taint of favouritism’.”

Lawrence Scott, Shadow Transport

“The reason the taxpayer pays for it is to ensure that it is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was on legitimate government business in the interest of the Bermudian people — not in the interests of the businessmen that picked up the tab. That’s why I say the taxpayer must pay for Government trips — for accountability, for transparency.”

“One thing that I know from successful business men and women is that businesses look for return on investment. So what does this businessman want in return for a $35,000 trip? What do they think that they are buying? Note that I said what do they think that they are buying, not who. Does this business think they are buying access to Cabinet?”

“What do the competitors think? Do they think they don’t have the ability to have a seat at the table or do they think they have to step up the ante and provide more than just a trip on a private jet, to be able to have a seat at the table to be able to find out information about Bermuda?”

“A person can become rich in business by making legal but unethical decisions. But a politician, a Member of this House, their currency is their integrity. So we should never be making any decisions that may be unethical as a Member of Parliament.”

Zane DeSilva, Shadow Health Minister

“You expect me to believe that billionaires, the owners of a jet, over a three-month period, cannot organise their schedule to take a two-hour flight to Bermuda, have a five-hour meeting and leave?”

“The fact that that plane left the US to come here and pick up the Premier and Ministers — you know what that started? Negotiations. The moment it was accepted, and the moment a foot was on that jet, the negotiations started.”

“This Premier takes a two-hour trip and he’s got to spend the night because he’s tired. I remember when Ewart Brown went to China and he came back in 48 hours.”

Wayne Scott, Community Development Minister

“It just blows my mind. We talk about moving forward, talk about doing things differently but most of the conversation is the same old same.”

“You left this country bankrupt and you want to preach? Are you serious? I’m just shaking my head.”

Rolfe Commissiong, Shadow Workforce Development Minister

“One must not only be doing the right thing, one must be seen to be doing the right thing. It must have the appearance of being an integral action. This does not meet that standard.”

“I think we’ll call this one ‘jetgate’”.

Glen Blakeney, Shadow Economic and Social Development Minister

“In any other jurisdiction that I know of closest to us, the Ministers that were involved would have been forced to resign.”

“A five-hour FYI — well how much do you really want to know? Without coming to Bermuda? Without a civil servant there? What did you talk about? You know all the technical questions that were asked of you in five hours and you’ve only been in the seat for five months?”

David Burt, Shadow Finance Minister

“It does not smell right. Nothing about that is proper.”

Bob Richards, Finance Minister

“We’ve got hypocritical hyperbole, and it’s all sound and fury signifying nothing.”

PLP MP Zane DeSilva

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Published June 03, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 03, 2013 at 12:10 am)


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