Monday, February 21, 2011

Credit where credit is due

Two weeks ago it emerged that several MPs had enjoyed a "last hurrah" on the taxpayer, booking international travel using their unjustifiable travel rort before the rules were changed. Now Ruth Dyson, who had booked herself a taxpayer-subsidised trip to Ethiopia, is paying back the subsidy for her trip - all $16,000 of it:

Labour MP Ruth Dyson says she is paying back the cost of a recent private trip to Ethiopia for herself and her husband because it is no longer appropriate for taxpayers to subsidise such trips when so many Kiwis are struggling to make ends meet.

“When I applied for funding for the trip in July last year, it was before the rules were changed, and the subsidy was perfectly within the rules,” Ruth Dyson said.

“However, I felt uncomfortable about the subsidy all the while I was overseas, and when I got back yesterday I informed Labour Leader Phil Goff I would be repaying the subsidy of just under $16,000, and making a statement about it. Phil said he believed my decision was the right one.

Good on her. The world has changed, and MPs need to recognise the new political reality: that international travel needs to be justified, and that we are not going to fund their extravagant private holidays. Now, if only Shane Ardern, who seems to have enjoyed a similar holiday on the taxpayer, would do the same...