16 Feb 2011

Govt orders new fleet of luxury ministerial cars

6:33 pm on 16 February 2011

A fleet of brand new BMWs has been ordered for government ministers - a move Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says shows the Government is divorced from the needs of the public.

Thirty-four new German luxury cars will replace the existing fleet which is just three years old. The cars retail for about $200,000 each.

Ms Turei says that is not an appropriate use of taxpayers' money when the Government is supposed to be tightening its belt financially.

The Department of Internal Affairs is responsible for purchasing ministerial cars and says there is no financial penalty if it chooses to opt out of the BMW contract.

The department says it could have hung on to the current fleet. However, buying a new fleet and selling the existing BMWs for close to their purchase price was the most cost-effective option, it says.

The Government says it was not consulted about the decision to purchase the cars.

Earlier, Finance Minister Bill English told Morning Report the Government is stuck with a contract written in 2007. That contract expires in 2014 at which point a better deal will be sought.

The Prime Minister's office says it is standard practice for the VIP fleet to be upgraded every three years, or when vehicles have travelled 90,000km.

A spokesperson says a substantial amount of money is being saved on the cost of the cars because there is a discount for buying in bulk.