Simon Bridges slashes spending, latest MPs' expense figures show

Author
NZ Herald ,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Thursday, 29 November 2018, 11:45a.m.
National Party leader Simon Bridges' expenses came to $75,316 for the September quarter. Photo / NZME
National Party leader Simon Bridges' expenses came to $75,316 for the September quarter. Photo / NZME

National leader Simon Bridges has reined in his spending on travel and accommodation in the past quarter, according to figures released today.

The early leaking of Bridges' expenses in August kicked off a firestorm for National which resulted in the expulsion of MP Jami-Lee Ross and claims of criminal misconduct on the part of Bridges and the party, allegations of harassment against Ross, and a stint for him seeking mental health treatment.

In all of it, the $113,973 Bridges spent on travel and accommodation, much of which was on Crown limousines, was largely forgotten.

Today, figures released by the Parliamentary Service show Bridges nearly halved what he spent in the September quarter on Crown limos - $47,223 compared with the $83,693 he spent in the June quarter.

The Opposition leader can use Crown cars but they're charged at a higher rate than ministers' use.

Overall, Bridges' expenses came to $75,316 for the September quarter.

That was slightly less than Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, whose travel and expenses, which included international travel, came to $82,088 for the quarter.

Of that, the Prime Minister repaid personally $11,206 for travel for her partner Clarke Gayford and their daughter Neve.

Bridges said he had worked with his office to make cost savings and would continue to do that.

"We need to balance getting around and meeting New Zealanders, hearing their concerns and ideas for New Zealand, while also ensuring that we take care with taxpayers' money," he said in a statement.

Bridges' expenses in the June quarter included the costs of a nationwide trip in which he visited the regions. The September expenses also come ahead of the party's 'have your say' campaign, launched in October in which Bridges and his MPs will also travel around New Zealand.

New Zealand First leader and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters spent $98,852 on accommodation and travel in the September quarter. A large portion of that, $72,439, was spent on international travel, which would be expected for the Foreign Minister.

At the other end of the spectrum was Associate Transport Minister and Green MP Julie Anne Genter, who spent $250 topping up her public transport AT Hop Card.

Her expenses of $10,480 were the lowest of any minister, although she spent part of the quarter on parental leave.

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