MPs' travel costs rise

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 13:44 30/01/2014

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Members of Parliament spent more than $3.8 million on travel and accommodation in the last quarter of 2013, rounding out the costs of travel for the year to just over $11m.

That figure includes domestic and Cabinet-approved international travel for ministers and MPs.

Ministerial expenses for the three months to December 31 were released today, showing ministers had spent a total of $1,992,624 on travel.

That figure was broken down to $976,101 for domestic travel and just over $1m for state-funded international travel. Three MPs were also approved by Cabinet for international travel to the tune of $13,655.

The total figure for MPs was $1,847,218 - up slightly from the previous quarter's figure of $1.74m.

Figures released by Parliamentary Service each quarter include accommodation in and out of Wellington and air-travel costs for the MPs, their spouses and staff.

The most expensive MP was Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, who racked up $50,952 in travel charges in the quarter.

The MP for Te Tai Tokerau holds one of the largest geographic electorates in the country.

Maori Party ministers Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia were also among the top spenders, with bills of $56,243 and $58,688 respectively. Those figures included expenses across both their ministerial portfolios and as MPs in their Maori electorates.

Prime Minister John Key spent $62,767 on travel within the country, and a further $144,501 on state-funded international travel.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully spent just $32,023 on domestic travel while his portfolio required him to have the highest international travel bill of any other member in the House - $165,686.

Trade Minister Tim Groser had the second-highest bill with $22,777 spent on domestic travel and $139,116 for international.

Christchurch Central MP Nicky Wagner had the highest expense bill in the National Party for non-ministers. She spent $41,561 in the past quarter.

The highest spender in the Labour Party was leader David Cunliffe with travel expenses totalling $38,428.

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