As a functioning democracy, New Zealand provides its Ministers with various perks, such as free travel, an accomodation allowance, and so on. We do this to enable them to do their jobs: announcing policy, communicating with interest groups, seeing what things look like on the ground. Instead, National uses it for electioneering:
Newly disclosed information on the use of the Government's VIP limousine fleet suggest the Government was involved in extensive use of taxpayer funded transport during last year's Northland by-election campaign.[Unmentioned: how often crown limos are use din Northland when there's not a by-election on. But you can be pretty sure that it is much, much lower].
Ministerial cars are supposed to be used for ministerial purposes - election campaigning sits well outside that definition.
GPS records, which also show the cars were breaking open road speed limits, reveal Crown cars were used in Northland on 25 separate occasions throughout February and March in the eight weeks leading up to the by-election.
On one occasion in early February, four separate Crown cars were being used in the electorate on the same day.
This is a straight-out rort of government resources for political purposes, an abuse of power. And it has to stop. If Ministers want to campaign in support of their colleagues, that's great - but they can do it on their own dime, rather than on the taxpayer's.
Update: Felix Marwick provides the extra stats in his accompanying opinion piece: ten visits in the four months after the by-election. So, "Ministerial business" in Northland increased by 500% when there was a by-election on. And if you believe that that's legitimate, rather than just a front to steal public resources for campaigning, I have a round building in Wellington to sell you...