Brownlee defends five-star hotel bill

  • 23/10/2015
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee had no choice over where he was put up when he was in Singapore for a high-level regional security meeting, his office says.

The latest ministerial credit card statements show the taxpayer coughed up almost $7800 for Mr Brownlee's four-day stay at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel in May.

Adding the $2600 it cost for a staff member to stay there as well, accommodation for the trip cost just over $10,000.

But Mr Brownlee had no choice in where he could stay while he was attending the Shangri-La Dialogue Asia Security Summit, a spokesman said.

"Accommodation arrangements for all attendees at the summit were made by the Singapore government," he said.

"The name of the conference is the name of the hotel - the Shangri-La Dialogue Asia Security Summit it is held annually at the Shangri-La Hotel - so if you're going, you're staying there, and you have no say over where they put you and the security arrangements they put in place for you."

Meanwhile, there were a few other unusual items put on ministerial credit cards.

Trade Minister Tim Groser spent $15 getting the sleeves shortened on a shirt ahead of a trip to Latin America.

The shirt was issued to him by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was required to be worn at formal occasions on the trip.

He also forked out $23.99 for a travel adaptor before he went to Mexico.

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga spent $145 hiring a morning suit for the coronation of the Tongan king in July, while Mr Brownlee bought two hi-vis vests for portfolio-related use for $32.30.

For the July to September period, Mr Groser had the highest total spend on international travel, hitting $174,000.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully wasn't far behind, spending $164,500.