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Hide Hands Over Cheque To Repay Travel Discount

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

Wellington, Nov 9 NZPA - ACT leader Rodney Hide today handed Parliamentary Services a cheque for nearly $12,000, paying back the taxpayer funds he claimed to take his partner on overseas trips.

Mr Hide yesterday apologised for claiming a 90 percent fare discount when he took Louise Crome to Hawaii for a holiday and also for her to accompany him on a ministerial trip to London, Canada and the United States to study local government structures.

On that trip the couple attended Ms Crome's brother's wedding.

Mr Hide last week repaid about $10,000 he had claimed to take Ms Crome on holiday to Hawaii.

Mr Hide is minister of local government and was entitled to the discount, as all MPs are, but he had made a name for himself in Parliament by campaigning as a "perkbuster" and criticising allowances.

Prime Minister John Key had earlier told ministers that on official trips they should pay for partners themselves.

Mr Key today said MPs needed to accept that while they were spending within the rules, the new transparency around expenses would change how they operated.

"We live in a world of enormous transparency where everything you do will be judged," he said.

"It doesn't mean you shouldn't do things...we've got to be careful we don't let this spook MPs so they don't do anything."

However, MPs had to be able to justify what they spent taxpayer money on: "You've just got to be able to stack up your actions."

Mr Key said Mr Hide had learned from his mistakes.

"He's rectified that and I think the people of Epsom will stick with him," he said.

"What he did was probably not appropriate given the campaign that he'd live by the sword, you die by the sword."

Mr Hide also apologised yesterday for remarks he made about the prime minister.

He said Mr Key had done little in government.

Mr Key said Mr Hide had his "absolute" confidence and that of ministers and "no one's taking them (the comments) seriously."

Mr Hide has vowed he would never again claim taxpayer money for holidays and said he had seriously examined himself after doing it.

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

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

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