Labour MP Ruth Dyson is to pay back $16,000 of taxpayers' money used for a recent private trip to Ethiopia for herself and her husband.
She said in a statement it was no longer appropriate for taxpayers to subsidise such trips "when so many Kiwis are struggling to make ends meet".
She said when she applied for the trip last July it was before the rules had changed and the subsidy was perfectly within the rules.
"However, I felt uncomfortable about the subsidy all the while I was overseas, and when I got back yesterday I informed Labour Leader Phil Goff I would be repaying the subsidy of just under $16,000, and making a statement about it. Phil said he believed my decision was the right one."
"Over the past month or so, there have been more and more stories about Kiwis struggling to pay their weekly bills and put food on the table," Dyson said.
"MPs must show a lead in terms of spending. Kiwis expect nothing else."
Stuff had tried to contact Dyson about the trip and her recent loss of the health portofio and her demotion one place to five on Labour's front bench. But her office said she could not be contacted in Ethiopia.
Dyson, who has been an MP since 1993, is entitled to a 90 per cent subsidy on private international travel.
Her husband was entitled to the same subsidy till the rules were changed in December last year following controversy over trips to China by former National MP Pansy Wong and her husband, Sammy.
The rule change also made it a requirement that MPs who use the subsidy to travel overseas must be primarily on Parliamentary business.
Previously, the trips could be for any reason except for personal business.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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