MP blames electorate size for bill

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 08:00 16/02/2013

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Being the MP for one of the largest electorates in the country has seen National's Ian McKelvie rack up an $11,000 driving bill in the last three months of 2012.

The latest breakdown of MPs' expenses has been released by Parliamentary Services, with Mr McKelvie the second highest spender of the Manawatu electorate MPs.

Top of that list was Otaki representative Nathan Guy, who claimed more than $50,000 in expenses in the three months to December, $24,800 of which was for international travel.

Cabinet ministers such as Mr Guy tend to claim more in expenses than other MPs. His duties in the last part of 2012 included a trip to Indonesia to represent New Zealand at the annual Bali Democracy Forum.

Mr McKelvie, who spoke to the Manawatu Standard during a drive from Wellington to Taihape yesterday, said a large travel bill was unavoidable for MPs with big electorates.

Mr McKelvie's Rangitikei electorate stretches from south of Palmerston North to Taumarunui.

"It's too big," he said. "It's 600km to Taumarunui and back. I can I stop at Raetihi or Waiouru."

Mr McKelvie's expenses for the period included $10,995 for travel on land and $3367 for air travel, as well as $4803 for accommodation in Wellington.

Besides the long distances, a large electorate also meant a lot of time behind the wheel, Mr McKelvie said.

"I can't fly to Taumarunui. I could fly to Taupo and rent a car but that's not sensible."

Mr McKelvie said he had looked at the latest expenses report and said it was clear other MPs with large electorates, such as in Northland, were in the same boat.

Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway is often one of the lowest spenders and in the last three months of 2012 he claimed just $5591.

He said he sympathised with Mr McKelvie's situation, and claimed much less in travel expenses because of the ease of driving around Palmerston North and the rarity of any flights to Wellington.

Mr Lees-Galloway's expenses included $2583 for accommodation in Wellington, $1889 for flights and $1052 for travel by land.

National MP for Wairarapa John Hayes claimed $12,001 in the three months to December, including $5217 for accommodation in Wellington, $1992 for flights and $4589 for land travel.

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- Manawatu Standard

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