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Other Ministers Travel Perks' Use

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Peter Dunne
Peter Dunne

Wellington, Nov 10 NZPA - ACT leader Rodney Hide has paid back taxpayer money he used to take his partner on overseas trips but other Ministers who did the same thing are resisting following his lead.

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne spent about $12,000 taking wife Jennifer Mackrell to Europe in June and Agriculture Minister David Carter took wife Heather to Europe in July, The Dominion Post reported today.

On a ministerial trip to London, Canada and the United States to study local government structures, Mr Hide took partner Louise Crome with him.

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

His travel was against a prime ministerial directive that ministers pay for partners, or leave them at home on work trips.

Mr Hide got around that by using a separate allowance for MPs which he also used for a holiday in Hawaii with Ms Crome.

When he first came to Parliament, Mr Hide styled himself as a "perk buster".

The Dominion Post asked Mr Dunne and Mr Carter if they would pay back the airfares.

Mr Dunne would not say.

Mr Carter's office said while he would not pay the money back, his wife would no longer travel with him at the taxpayers' expense.

Other ministers the newspaper identified using the perks were:

* Police Minister Judith Collins took husband David Wong-Tung on an official trip to Perth at a cost of $775.65 . Spouses were invited to the conference of Australian state ministers and he helped her represent New Zealand, she said.

* Defence Minister Wayne Mapp spent $3484 for a holiday with wife Denise Henare in the Cook Islands. He would not repay it, but would not use it in future.

* Justice Minister Simon Power claimed $3991 of the $5475 cost of taking wife Lisa to Perth in January, but would not make any further claims.

* Housing Minister Phil Heatley spent $924 taking wife Jenny to the Cook Islands, and would not use the perk again.

* Education Minister Anne Tolley spent $4120 for her and husband Allan to holiday overseas at an undisclosed destination.

* Health Minister Tony Ryall claimed $2560 to travel with wife Kara to Rarotonga.

* Climate Change Minister Nick Smith took his wife with him for 2020 emissions target consultations.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday 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 Hide's actions have reinvigorated a debate about entitlements and the Greens said a review should be held.

Mr Hide said he would support dropping the travel entitlements and Radio New Zealand reported Progressive leader Jim Anderton felt the same way.

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