MP costs show big contrast

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 13:00 31/01/2014

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Nelson MP and Cabinet Minister Nick Smith claimed $45,403 in expenses at the same time fellow National list MP Chris Auchinvole claimed $32,155 in expenses.

Expenses claimed by MPs for the three months to the end of last year have been released and show a wide range.

Dr Smith, as Nelson MP, claimed $2459 in travel and no other expenses. As a minister he claimed $42,944, made up of $8630 Wellington accommodation, $2522 expenses out of the capital, $12,470 domestic flights, and $19,322 surface travel which can be for him, his wife and staff.

Mr Auchinvole, a list MP living in Moana on the West Coast who is not a cabinet minister, claimed a total of $32,155, made up of $4696 accommodation in Wellington, $1821 out of Wellington, $13,753 air travel and $11,886 surface travel.

He said today it reflected the cost of covering the large West Coast Tasman electorate that stretched from Haast to Takaka, and prior to Christmas he tried to visit all points.

Travelling to Parliament required an hour's drive from his home to Hokitika then the flight to Wellington, and he claimed a mileage allowance. He owned a home in Wellington and received an accommodation allowance.

He is deputy chair of the government administration select committee and sits on the transport and industrial relations committee.

Green list MP Kevin Hague, who also lives on the West Coast claimed $23,575 expenses, with $10,453 of that on flights.

West Coast Tasman Labour MP Damien O'Connor, who lives in Moutere, claimed $23,707, with $11,075 of that on flights.

Nelson-based Labour list MP Maryan Street spent $15,060, with $10,313 of that on flights.

Canterbury's newest MP claimed more than $2000 in travel and accommodation in the last quarter of 2013, despite not being officially sworn in as an MP until this week.

Christchurch East MP Poto Williams spent $1798 on flights, $278 on Wellington accommodation and $167 on taxis.

She replaced former MP Lianne Dalziel after winning the November 30 by-election but was only sworn in on Tuesday.

Williams said she began travelling and working in Wellington immediately after the by-election. Her time there included inductions, training, working with Parliamentary Services and setting up her office.

"Even though I didn't have a (MP's) warrant, there was still work to be done," she said.

The South Island's biggest spending non-Minister was Christchurch Central MP Nicky Wagner, who claimed $41,561 which included $27,380 in air travel, $9217 on Wellington accommodation, $4669 on surface travel (cars, taxis) and $295 for accommodation outside the capital.

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The most frugal MP was Selwyn MP and Cabinet Minister Amy Adams, who claimed $1319.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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