National's Simon Bridges halves expenses after $114k cash-splash in 2018

Simon Bridges has more than halved his expenses compared to last year when it was revealed by Newshub he spent more than $100,000 on limos and hotels. 

The lists of ministerial and non-ministerial MP expenses have been revealed, showing MPs spent $3.4 million on travel and accommodation over three months.

Bridges, the National Party leader, had the highest expenses out of non-ministerial MPs from January to March with a grand total of $44,153 - most of it on travel.

But his spending was less than half of the $113,973 he spent in the June quarter last year during his 'getting to know Simon' roadshow.

Bridges was unapologetic at the time, telling Newshub he hadn't spent too much, and that he was "working incredibly hard as Opposition Leader to get out there and understand what's happening in New Zealand". 

His expenses were higher over the first three months of this year than Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's total of $35,989, but as a non-ministerial MP, Bridges is charged more for things. 

As Leader of the Opposition, Bridges is eligible for VIP transport services, but he's charged at $171 per hour, whereas transport for ministers is charged at $68 per hour.

Ardern's accommodation costs also aren't listed, as she's put up in Premier House in Wellington. She spent $35,989 on domestic travel compared to Bridges who spent $34,665. 

When asked how he managed to decrease his expenses in 2019, Bridges told Newshub: "I've worked with my office to make cost savings and we will continue to do that."

"We need to balance getting around and meeting New Zealanders, hearing their concerns and ideas for the country, while also making sure we take care with taxpayers’ money."

National leader Simon Bridges.
National leader Simon Bridges. Photo credit: Getty

The Speaker of the House and Deputy Speaker are also entitled to VIP transport services, hence Deputy Speaker and National MP for East Coast Anne Tolley was the second-highest spender on Crown cars.

Bridges' overall spending this year was almost double the next highest National spender: MP for Clutha Southland Hamish Walker, who spent $25,444 over three months.

Walker's general electorate is the largest in New Zealand, requiring a high amount of driving to get around, so it's not surprising his surface travel spending would be high.

The highest-spending ministerial MP was Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters who spent a grand total of $135,951 over three months, $106,979 on international travel.

The New Zealand First leader clocked some high expenses on his ministerial credit card in his role as Foreign Minister. He spent $14,230.23 on trips to Australia, the US, Thailand and Europe.

Women's Minister Julie Anne Genter had the highest expenses out of her Green Party colleagues with her international travel at $44,030.

But a note attached to this figure said it includes a cost code correction between Genter and Climate Change Minister James Shaw from a trip that occurred in the prior year.

Ministers from Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens spent a combined total of $1.1 million over three months, while non-ministerial MPs spent a combined total of $1.4 million.

ACT Party leader David Seymour spent a total of $18,787 over three months, while now-Independent former National MP Jami-Lee Ross spent $12,115.

Accommodation

(Wellington & non-Wellington)

Top five Labour

  1. MP Nanaia Mahuta $12,707
  2. Kelvin Davis $12,617
  3. Stuart Nash $12,199
  4. Iain Lees-Galloway $11,183
  5. Willie Jackson $10,686

Top five National

  1. Hamish Walker $11,546
  2. Anne Tolley $10,899
  3. Andrew Falloon $9528
  4. Simon Bridges $9489
  5. Jonathan Young $8122

Top five NZ First

  1. Shane Jones $10,580
  2. Ron Mark $10,898
  3. Mark Patterson $8825
  4. Fletcher Tabutaeu $6296
  5. Jenny Marcroft $5100

Top five Greens

  1. Eugenie Sage $8549
  2. Golriz Ghahraman $7623
  3. Chloe Swarbrick $7134
  4. Marama Davidson $7134
  5. Julie Anne Genter $3945

Travel

(Air & surface travel)

Top five Labour

  1. Damien O'Connor $92,767
  2. David Parker $73,697
  3. Nanaia Mahuta $50,194
  4. Jacinda Ardern $35,989
  5. Aupito Su'a William Sio $24,476

Top five National

  1. Simon Bridges $34,665
  2. Hamish Walker $13,898
  3. Shane Reti $18,637
  4. Alfred Ngaro $14,298
  5. Gerry Brownlee $14,142

Top five NZ First

  1. Winston Peters $121,421
  2. Fletcher Tabutaeu $55,612
  3. Shane Jones $45,809
  4. Ron Mark $28,698
  5. Tracey Martin $15,033

Top five Greens

  1. Julie Anne Genter $44,779
  2. James Shaw $13,884
  3. Eugenie Sage $17,170
  4. Chloe Swarbrick $14,359
  5. Jan Logie $12,672

Newshub.

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