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Hide Apologises For Expense Claims, Says He Will Pay Money Back

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Rodney Hide. Pic: NZPA
Rodney Hide. Pic: NZPA

Wellington, Nov 8 NZPA - ACT leader Rodney Hide has apologised for claiming taxpayer money to take his partner on overseas trips and says he will repay all of it.

Mr Hide claimed 90 percent fare discounts for Louise Crome -- an entitlement all MPs have -- when they went to Hawaii for a holiday and then when he took her London, Canada and the United States so she could be with him on a ministerial visit.

Mr Hide is MP for Epsom and minister of local government. He visited those countries to study local government structures.

"I want to apologise to the public. I want to apologise to my colleagues and my supporters," he said at a press conference today.

"But most importantly I want to apologise to the people of Epsom. I promised the people of Epsom I would make them proud of me as their MP. I have let them down, I have made mistakes."

Mr Hide made a name for himself as a "perkbuster" when he first came to Parliament, and he severely criticised the travel and other allowances MPs are entitled to.

He did not break the rules by claiming the fare discount for Ms Crome, but he said he had been wrong to do so.

"I am not proud of my casual use of taxpayers' money to take a holiday in Hawaii with my partner," he said.

"That was wrong. My decision to repay that money ($10,022) was easy when I took time to reflect on what I had done."

He said he had now decided to repay the cost of his partner's airfares for the trip to London, Canada and the United states.

"I will be providing Parliamentary services with a cheque for $11,952 in the morning."

Mr Hide extended his apology to include Prime Minister John Key.

He made disparaging remarks about Mr Key at a public meeting in Christchurch, saying the prime minister did not do much.

Mr Key brushed it off as light-hearted banter, but Mr Hide said today he had caused a distraction by making those remarks.

"I want to publicly apologise to John Key for distracting attention away from the important job his government has in lifting New Zealand's economic performance," he said.

"The prime minister has entrusted me with a big and important job. He is excellent to work with and I appreciate his very generous support -- especially over the last two weeks."

Mr Hide said he was making two commitments to the public, his colleagues and supporters.

"I will never again use taxpayers' money for any overseas holidays.

"I will continue to work hard to do the very best job I can as a minister and a Member of Parliament to honour the trust that the people of Epsom have shown in electing me to represent them."

Mr Hide said none of his colleagues had told him to repay the money, they had left the decision up to him.

He said he had learned a lesson about himself in the last two weeks, and realised he was not living up to the standards he had set himself.

"I just thought... those are the rules (about travel expenses), and that's where I lost sight of it," he said.

"It's not easy for anyone to admit they've stuffed up."

Mr Hide said he was not telling any other MP what they should do about claiming expenses because it was up to each of them to make up their own minds.

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