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Rodney Hide Says He Has Suffered Abuse Over Perk Spending

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Rodney Hide
Rodney Hide

Wellington, Nov 1 NZPA - ACT leader Rodney Hide says he has been abused in the street for using taxpayer-funded perks to pay for his girlfriend's travel.

Mr Hide, who early in his political career styled himself as a perk-buster highlighting what he considered extravagant spending by MPs, spent $25,163 on air travel for girlfriend Louise Crome. His own air travel cost $26,872.

The revelation last week came in the second release of MP's expenses for the July 1-September 30 period.

Some of Mr Hide's travel was for a super city fact-finding trip to London and the United States.

He is minister of local government and the aim of the trip was to see for himself how other cities handled changes to council structures.

Since the story broke he had been verbally abused in the street, and his parents, Ms Crome and her parents had been contacted by journalists, Mr Hide told the Sunday Star-Times.

"It's not their decision, it's my responsibility, and it just puts a big strain on everything. You feel bad about upsetting your family members. My poor mother is beside herself."

Mr Hide said he was trying to hold his new relationship together.

"You are very busy as a minister. I hardly see the young lady and it's pretty tough. I had the opportunity for this trip and I wanted to do it..."

Mr Hide said taking Ms Crome on the trip cost about $5000 and remainder was largely domestic travel.

Mr Hide said he disagreed with the perk but would continue to use it as the perks were provided instead of higher salaries.

Prime Minister John Key told his ministers they should pay for their partners themselves if they wanted to take them on official trips because of belt-tightening.

However, Mr Hide paid for his partner's travel using MP's allowances, which Mr Key has no control over, rather than as a minister.

He was not the only one to get around the directive.

The Dominion Post yesterday reported that United Future leader Peter Dunne, also Revenue Minister, paid for his wife to travel to Europe with him in June -- costing about $12,000.

Mr Dunne said he was entitled to use his MP allowance to pay for his wife and it had been cleared with the ninth floor.

Agriculture Minister David Carter also took his wife to Europe with him, the taxpayer picking up the bill.

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