State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters says the going rate to secure a visit by former US president Barack Obama would be more than he was happy with as a shareholding minister of Air NZ.
Obama is due to visit New Zealand in March, a trip organised by Air NZ which is expected to launch a new route to the United States soon.
The visit is yet to be officially confirmed because final contracts, including security contracts, have not yet been signed.
Peters said he could not confirm the visit but it was “quite likely”.
The Government is a majority shareholder of Air NZ and Peters said he would like to know the terms on which Obama would be coming.
He would not say how much he would tolerate Air NZ paying for such a visit. “But I know what his going rate is. And I know we can’t afford it.”
“I will certainly be getting a briefing. The idea that this is just part of the normal commercial practice of Air NZ won’t wash, will it? If [the media] are interested so should I be.”
He did not necessarily expect a meeting with Obama as Minister of Foreign Affairs because it was a private speech.
Obama has been reported as getting of fees $US 400,000 for speeches in the US.
Peters said he was not relying on media reports of the going rate, but his own information. “I know what the circuit rate for a number of people internationally is including Clinton, Obama and others.”
A spokeswoman from Air New Zealand, when asked for comment, released this statement: “While Air NZ and other corporates have an aspiration to host President Obama in New Zealand, no contracts have been signed to bring him here.”
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