Good lord. I agree with Ralston.
Yes but there's another subtext. Ralston agrees with you that the venue/conference was legitimate; but then he goes on to suggest Clark kowtowed to popular opinion, forcing Street to eat the words she said the day before in defence of her ministry.
Once again the Government threw a ministry to the wolves, which goes a long way to explaining why we have a timid, risk-averse public service. Once, there was a principle of ministerial responsibility and ministers defended their public servants. Now, public servants are easy and regular scapegoats when the political heat goes on.
Clark could have chosen to stick with Street and tough it out, maintaining that the conference was cost effective and legitimate. Instead she caved quickly, giving creedence to National's campaign claims that there is too much tax money wasted on govt services/bureacracy.
(But in Clark's defence I also wonder if she had any choice but to buckle; given that the media seemed hellbent to push this issue in one direction only. The MSM: Never let the facts or the maths get in the way of the 'angle'.)