MPs’ expenses for the April-June quarter have been released, with Labor and Greens ministers racking up nearly $1 million in international travel costs.
The surge in foreign travel comes as no surprise after the border reopened in July, allowing politicians to travel abroad on diplomatic and trade missions.
Commerce Minister Damien O’Connor racked up the highest international travel bill, with a total of $313,000 for various overseas trips. The release of his credit card statements revealed additional expenses of $20,000 during the April-June quarter.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has spent $137,000 on international travel, including visits to Asia, the United States, Europe and Australia.
Fifteen other ministers claimed international travel expenses, bringing the total to $925,000.
Other departmental expenditures totaled $636,000 for accommodation and domestic travel. The labor ministers spent $606,000 while the two green ministers claimed $30,000.
Overall, non-government MPs spent a total of $1.6 million in the last quarter.
Of these expenses, National MPs claimed $767,000 for accommodation and travel expenses. Many MPs live outside of Wellington.
Chief Christopher Luxon claimed $46,000 for travel and accommodation costs, including $5,000 for VIP transportation.
Non-Cabinet Labor MPs racked up an additional $607,000 in total costs.
The second biggest spender was ACT: the party’s 10 MPs spent $138,000 among themselves.
The non-ministerial Greens claimed $70,000 and Te Pāti Māori spent $20,000.