Climate Change Minister James Shaw spent most on international travel

The Green Party's co-leader James Shaw spent more on international air travel than any other minister, new data shows.   

The Climate Change Minister had $77,771 approved for international travel from October to the end of December, compared to $54,487 for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, data from the Department of Internal Affairs shows. 

No other minister's international travel expenses came close to Mr Shaw's total. The second highest was the Prime Minister, followed by Energy Minister Megan Woods and Finance Minister Grant Robertson, respectively. 

In comparison to Mr Shaw, his Green Party colleague, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage, had $48,981 approved for international air travel, along with just $1853 approved for Women's Minister Julie Anne Genter and $411 for Jan Logie. 

The Government's confidence and supply partner, the Green Party, is known for its anti-carbon stance and hailed the Government's decision to end offshore oil and gas drilling. 

When asked why his international travel expenses were so high, Mr Shaw told Newshub he happened to attend multiple international climate change events during that time. 

A spokesperson for Mr Shaw explained how he had attended the Global Climate Action Summit held in San Francisco, as well as the Katowice Climate Change Conference in December in Poland where talks ended with a deal on putting the Paris Agreement into practice. 

The spokesperson said the minister also passed through London on his way back to New Zealand from Poland for a forum on Pacific climate change issues. 

Mr Shaw told Newshub: "I understand that as Climate Change Minister, I have to weigh up the value of my travel. These events last year were significant international climate change conferences. They allow us to put New Zealand's case to the international community."

He said New Zealand, as a small nation, needs to have a voice at the global table to represent the Pacific, and "that sometimes means having to attend these events". 

He also highlighted that the events he attended present networking opportunities. 

The highest international travel expenses for a New Zealand First minister went to leader Winston Peters who had $49,378 approved, followed by Defence Minister Ron Mark at $48,373.