Dean's bill for travel reflects big electorate

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD AND FAIRFAX
Last updated 05:00 16/02/2013

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The latest round of MP expenses shows that in the last three months of 2012, MPs claimed more than $2.6 million in travel, accommodation and other expenses, including more than $1m spent by the 28 government ministers.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean claimed $20,698 in travel expenses for the last three months of 2012, which included $10,026 in air travel, $6312 in surface travel, and the remainder on accommodation.

Mrs Dean said Waitaki, being one of the country's biggest electorates in terms of geographic size, had played a factor in her costs.

"In any given week, I can travel between 500 kilometres to 1000km," she said.

"As an example, I could have to go from Oamaru to Tekapo to Fairlie, or take the southern route, and go from Oamaru to Alexandra. Either journey is about 250km one-way. It all adds up," she said.

The fact her electorate was so spread out meant that she often had to plan well ahead of time, but had "no regrets" about its size.

"You have to do the job you're tasked with, it doesn't matter how big or small your patch is," Mrs Dean said.

Rangitata MP Jo Goodhew claimed only $2098 in the last quarter for her MP expenses, but $38,327 in ministerial expenses. Mrs Goodhew is minister for senior citizens, womens' affairs, and the community and voluntary sector. She is also an associate health minister.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira's claim for the October to December period of $45,127 was the most among opposition MPs, while Northland MP Mike Sabin's claim of $32,362 was the highest for government MPs without ministerial posts.

The $67,698 claimed by Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples at the end of 2012 was not the most expensive (Prime Minister John Key claimed $78,784).

Sharples claimed $295,772 in expenses in 2012, on top of his salary as a minister outside Cabinet of $217,200.

In a statement, Dr Sharples said he was a "hardworking minister".

"Some of these places are off the beaten track, and take hours of travel by car, but it is important that we do see people kanohi ki te kanohi [face to face]."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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