12 Mar 2018

New government's expenses claims revealed

3:39 pm on 12 March 2018

Manukau East MP Jenny Salesa has topped the list for ministerial spending since the government was elected last year.

First Tongan-born NZ MP, Jenny Salesa

Manukau East MP Jenny Salesa Photo: RNZ Pacific: Sela Jane Hopgood

The details of MPs and ministers' spending from 1 October until the end of December have been released.

Ms Salesa - the Building and Construction Minister and Minister for Ethnic Communities - spent $30,186 during the quarter, with nearly $8873 on domestic flights and $13,916 on surface travel.

Surface travel would mainly be Crown cars, but could also include taxis or rental cars.

In a statement her office said she did a "significant amount of outreach to meet all the different groups and communities" in her role as minister, attending at the weekend "six community events in the Ethnic Communities portfolio, alone".

"This inevitably requires a significant amount of travel between events and meetings.

"The Minister was particularly busy travelling, meeting with different groups in the period immediately after the election - October - December", said the statement.

NZ First minister Shane Jones spent $27,296 on travel and accommodation, with the bulk of that on travel.

His office said being based in Northland meant he often had to take more than one flight, and when travelling as a minister, including for his Regional Economic Development portfolio, rental cars were used where appropriate.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's total bill was $27,751 but that included an overpayment error for Wellington accommodation of just under $6904 that has since been repaid. She spent $14,601 on surface travel.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters spent $16,139, but like the Prime Minister, that includes an accommodation overpayment of $3945, which he has also paid back.

Details of ministers' credit card expenses have also been released, with much of the spending going on new diplomatic passports for ministers, staff and one for the Prime Minister's partner Clarke Gayford.

Ministers in the Labour-led government spent $141,434 on international travel in the last quarter of 2017.

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