Abstemious MPs lose taste for travel

Last updated 05:00 29/04/2011

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MPS and ministers spent a million dollars less on travel and accommodation in the first three months of this year than in the last quarter of 2010.

Ministers racked up more than $1.46m in expenses in the three months to the end of March, according to Internal Affairs figures. This was $600,000 down on the previous three months.

MPs also reined in their spending, to $1.49m. The biggest spender was Prime Minister John Key, with $102,000 – $85,000 on domestic travel and expenses and $17,000 on Cabinet-approved international travel.

Trade Minister Tim Groser spent $90,000 – $59,960 on international travel costs and $30,000 on internal travel, expenses and accommodation – closely followed by Defence Minister Wayne Mapp, whose bills ran to $88,000.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples ran up the second biggest domestic travel and accommodation bills, spending $65,986.

Deposed ACT leader and perk-buster Rodney Hide ran up internal bills of $40,952.

Details of ministerial credit-card spending, including demands for detailed receipts, were also made public by Internal Affairs.

The accounts indicate ministers have been careful to avoid the sorts of disclosures revealed by The Dominion Post last year.

Several ministers meticulously detailed their hotel mini-bar bills, carefully noting their purchases were either orange juice or water, and Finance Minister Bill English even got his staff to demand a refund, insisting he had mistakenly been billed for a $46 mini-bar tab.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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