Meh, it’s only free taxpayers’ money

Journalists have been combing over MP’s expense claims to see if they can get an easy hit.

qweqPrime Minister John Key’s domestic expenses were the highest at $48,100 but well down on the $70,000 he spent in the election quarter. He also had $28,000 in international travel. Foreign Minister Murray McCully spent $127,000 on international travel as the successful Security Council bid wound up.

MPs who are not ministers spent a total of $1.4 million on travel and accommodation – down from $1.5 million in the election quarter. Whanganui MP Chester Borrows was highest spending with a total of $26,618. Mr Borrows said that was primarily because he drove himself to save money and his had put in a backlog of six months worth of mileage claims.

Wellington-based MP Annette King’s travel costs were higher than usual at $12,823. She said that included the cost of flights to Poland in January as part of New Zealand’s delegation for Auschwitz commemorations. MPs can still use taxpayer subsidised international travel perks if it is primarily for work purposes and has the approval of the Speaker.

Former Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira regularly topped the table of spending by MPs who were not ministers. His successor in Te Tai Tokerau, Labour’s Kelvin Davis, was the second highest spending MP although his spending was only about half of Mr Harawira’s.

Mr Harawira regularly notched up more than $50,000 in travel and accommodation. Mr Davis spent $24,860 – marginally more than the third costliest – Dunedin MP David Clark.
MPs in Northland and the South Island tend to have higher travel costs than others because of the number of flights to get to Wellington.

Traveling to and from parliament and directly associated costs should be split from the total for each MP, and then the remainder will make for more interesting reading.

A Wellington MP that self-drives to work can spend thousands a month on stuff and still look frugal compared to others. ? It isn’t the totals that’s the issue, it is where the real troughing takes place that’s of interest to the suffering taxpayers.


– Claire Trevett, NZ Herald