Former MP Todd Barclay takes two month paid European holiday

Author
Kirsty Wynn, NZ Herald,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Sunday, 3 December 2017, 6:39AM
The former MP had to resign under a cloud of controversy. (Photo/Supplied)
The former MP had to resign under a cloud of controversy. (Photo/Supplied)

Disgraced MP Todd Barclay has just enjoyed a two-month sun-filled tour of Italy, Croatia and Greece all while receiving a $3000 a week taxpayer-funded pay packet.

The former National MP announced in June he would not stand again after the "phone tapping" scandal - but under Parliament's rules he still receives his salary until December 23.

That means Barclay will have pocketed a total of $80,000 of taxpayer money, before tax, over six months.

It's unclear what work he has done since June - Parliamentary Services, which administers politicians' funding entitlements, was unable to say how many days he had been in Parliament or whether he had claimed any expenses.

After Barclay announced he would not stand for re-election, former Prime Minister Bill English said he would "carry out his usual duties and represent his community".

In September Barclay said he was moving to London to look for job opportunities.

Since then photos he has posted to social media tell a different story. Pictures of Barclay and companion Kristy Martin show the pair enjoyed a two-month tour of Europe's most envied destinations.

The Coliseum in Rome, the canals of Venice, ruins in Athens and white sands of Mykonos in Greece were all on the lengthy tour.

As an MP and deputy chair of a select committee Barclay earned about $160,000 a year as well as the added benefits of travel and accommodation expenses.

Barclay, the former MP for Clutha-Southland, left New Zealand on September 19 - just 4 days before the election.

After Winston Peters' October 19 decision to support a Labour-led government, Barclay posted on social media: "Really sad for my former colleagues - National MPs, party members and Beehive staffers today. You should be proud of everything you've achieved over the last 9 years. Know you have made a difference. Thinking of you all."

A week later the pair travelled back to London for a Halloween costume party at a friend's flat before Barclay came back to New Zealand in time for the Queenstown Marathon.

Under Parliamentary policy someone who retired would still be paid until three months after polling day - up to December 23.

All 34 MPs who resigned or lost their seats at the 2017 election still get paid for three months - about $40,000 in total, or $3300 a week, before tax.

Former MPs and party leaders Peter Dunne and Te Ururoa Flavell defended Barclay, saying departed MPs have an entitlement and how they use it is their business.

Te Ururoa Flavell said despite the circumstances Barclay was entitled to his salary and "it was up to the individual concerned how they spend their money".

Dunne said MPs ceased to be employed on election night.

He had "been at home re-establishing himself" since election night but said Barclay was free to do what he wanted.

"Like all MPs he ceased to be a member of Parliamnet at midnight on election night, after that he is a private citizen.

"That's his life and responsibility and good on him for getting on with it. I think in his circumstances to get right out of New Zealand was the right thing to do."

Barclay was tipped for great things after his election in 2014 - becoming the youngest MP in the House of Representatives.

But his career came crashing down after Glenys Dickson, a senior electorate agent for Barclay, resigned because of an "employment problem" between the two.

It emerged Barclay had made clandestine recordings of staff members he suspected of being critical of him. Despite it being a crime, Barclay refused to give a statement to police who decided not to lay charges.

Barclay could not be reached for comment.

ON AIR: Mike Hosking Breakfast

6AM - 8:30AM