15 Feb 2012

State Services Minister says rules clear

4:45 pm on 15 February 2012

State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman says Government department chief executives are expected to apply some judgement when it comes to using taxpayer-funded expenses.

Te Puni Kokiri head Leith Comer says he decided to repay money spent on his wife's travel because it was reflecting badly on himself and the department.

He says he would like the rules clarified so he can meet these obligations without running into the difficulties he is facing at the moment.

However Mr Coleman does not believe that is necessary.

A release of chief executives' expenses for the second half of last year shows Mr Comer twice flew his wife to Auckland, for the Style Pasifika event and the Maori Sports Awards.

Mr Comer says while he believes the spending was justified at the time, he now accepts the perception that it was not a good use of taxpayers' money.

He says he has written a check to cover the $1800 travel expenses.

In future he says he will carefully consider whether his wife accompanies him to events.

But Mr Comer says the State Services Commission should consider whether departmental heads can take their spouses to future events.