Thursday, August 04, 2011

Ministerial expenses

The government released its Ministerial expenses today, and as usual I've spent the afternoon going through credit card statements. Most Ministers are appropriately frugal with public money, and their expenses are reasonable and necessary. There are a few surprises however - Hekia Parata's $1400 on limos in Australia, Peter Dunne's taxpayer-funded sightseeing tour of Vienna, and Tim Groser's lunch for high-paid Australian executives, the exact cost of which was concealed by splitting the bill with the local consulate (but his part was over NZ$80 a head - for lunch).

The exception, of course, is Murray McCully [PDF]. I'd previously noted his habit of getting us to pay for his boozing. Sadly, it doesn't seem to have changed. This quarter's examples:

  • An $1150 banquet for 8 at Shed 5 in Wellington, including $510 of wine.
  • A series of expensive dinners in New York for the Minister and his private secretary, with no detailed receipts provided.
  • Similarly expensive but unreceipted meals in Istanbul and Athens.
  • Excessive alcohol: A $30 dinner in Dublin, with $40 of wine (and a repeat performance the next night), a $15 lunch in Tallinn, accompanied by $65 of wine, $51 for fish and chips for two in Christchurch, and $39 for the bottle to go with it. I don't mind Ministers having a drink with dinner. But this goes well beyond that.

Remember, we're paying for all of this. The government is preaching austerity to us, but some of them don’t seem to be following it in practice. But I guess they just think the rules are different for them...