Comment

Former politicians spend $1.1m on travel

Taxpayers spent $1.1 million in the last year on the travel expenses of former politicians, according to the latest annual report for Parliament, which has just been published.

The spending is on domestic and international travel for former MPs and their partners – a perk that continues to be provided to MPs elected prior to 1999, and who served at least three terms. Their spouses are also eligible.

Most of the money was spent on international airfares. Amongst other perks, the former MPs and their spouses are allowed the equivalent of one business class trip to London each year.

The highest spending couple were former National MP Roger Maxwell and his partner, whose domestic and international travel cost $22,180. Not far behind were former Labour MP Steve Maharey and partner, who spent $21,916 on international travel.

Other former MPs (and their partners) who spent large amounts on international travel included Warren Kyd ($19,542), Peter Brown ($18,044), John Carter ($17,984), and Chris Carter ($16,434).

Newly retired MPs have also been quick to make use of their perk. Murray McCully and his wife cost the taxpayer $13,550 on domestic and international travel. Close behind him, Peter Dunne and his wife cost the taxpayer $13,018 on international travel.

Some former MPs are only spending money on domestic travel – the highest spender was Pete Hodgson ($5,108).

Some MPs have high expenditure on their international travel, but have not claimed the expense for a partner. For example, Kerry Burke charged $10,397, and Marian Hobbs, $9,022.

In total, according to the Parliamentary Service annual report, former parliamentarians and their spouses spent $1,113,979 on travel spending in the last year (including taxes). This information includes travel which commenced prior to 30 June 2018 for which reimbursement requests were received by 8 August 2018.

The travel perks for these MPs continue for the entirety of their life. There are also separate perks for former Prime Ministers, which aren’t paid for by Parliament, and therefore aren’t costed in this latest report. For example, former Prime Ministers receive a payment of $51,725 a year for the rest of their lives. They also receive free travel if they are carrying out duties as a former leader.

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