Auckland Councillor fails to start debate over expensive international trips

Caviar and complimentary champagne are just some of the perks being enjoyed by Auckland Council staff embroiled in a travel scandal.

Figures show half of the organisation's international travel costs are going on business class flights, but a push to stop the practice has been grounded.

Auckland Councillor John Watson says it's "embarrassing" and it's too much money.

Figures show the Council (excluding Watercare and Auckland Transport) spent $1.1 million on international travel in the 20 months to August this year. Almost half of that went on business class travel.

One business clas return ticket to the UK cost more than $15,000, or five times the average economy price.

"They wouldn't be paying those sums of money if they were having to stump up with those sums of cash themselves - so why should it be different when it's the public purse?" Mr Watson says.

Mr Watson tried to raise a notice of motion to debate the issue at a council commitee meeting today, but chief executive Stephen Town denied the request.

"They don't want that going to a debate because the net result of that might be councillors say no more business class travel," Mr Watson says.

Mr Town refused Newshub's request for an interview, but in a statement said he stopped the debate because the issue is already being looked at as part of a wider report on council expenses.

Massey University local government lecturer Andrew Cardow said it's not unusual for council members or other public servants to fly business class.

"The elected members and the Council members are permitted to fly business class if they get CEO sign off and fly over nine hours - this is not unusual."

Mr Watson says given looming rate hikes, he's not giving up his battle to cut travel costs - he's in it for the long haul.