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Tim Groser credit card gets workout

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Tim Groser
Tim Groser

By Maggie Tait of NZPA

Wellington, June 10 NZPA - Jetsetting Cabinet Minister Tim Groser gave his ministerial credit card a good workout on his many overseas trips in his climate change and trade roles.

Most of his spending for dinners, drinks and alcohol as part of his roles appears to be within the rules.

The minister appears to like a quiet drink in his room at night -- on a couple of occasions he spent more than $100 on minibars in his rooms in Copenhagen, Bangkok, Australia, and England. Mr Groser's office said he did not think the use of the minibar to be frequent given the amount of time spent overseas - approximately 200 days per year.

An Internal Affairs spokesman said ministers had discretion about spending like that.

Mr Groser has had a bit of bad luck since becoming a minister in 2008. His credit card had to be replaced after being someone else used it fraudulently and his staff member had to go shopping for new clothes when his luggage was lost.

That bill included $439 for walking boots. "I required suitable footwear for walking in the snow", a note on the reconciliation form says. At Benetton the staff member purchased dress pants and a top for $135 and at Angerer Sport he bought a snow jacket for $958.

Mr Groser's office said insurance payments came through later.

Mr Groser also got the card out to pay for two staff leaving functions and used it to pay for a gift from a toy shop for a departing staff member. One farewell cost $103 and another about $75 including the gift.

His spokeswoman said the farewells were modest and reasonable expenditure as was the small gift.

Internal Affairs said that was also legitimate spending and ministers could spend up to $300 on such functions.

However, when Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee's credit card expenses were released last year he paid back money he spent on a staff lunch in Christchurch.

In October last year an invoice was missing for an evening at the Wine Room. Mr Groser said it was dinner with key conservation contacts. He declined to comment further today.

On another occasion Mr Groser paid for air travel which was refunded by the Parliamentary Service. While this was the incorrect procedure, there was no loss for the taxpayer. His spokeswoman said the charge was an administrative error and was fixed right away.

Mr Groser has recently been in hot water after attracting a complaint after drinking at a bar on an international flight from Dubai.

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