New Zealand First dwarfing Greens in executive expenses

New Zealand First and Green Party caucuses.
New Zealand First and Green Party caucuses. Photo credit: New Zealand First / Green Party

New Zealand First's ministers and under-secretary are dwarfing the Green Party's executive members in expenses, recently released documents show. 

The Green Party's executive members in government - James Shaw, Eugenie Sage, Julie Anne Genter and Jan Logie - spent a grand total of $80,827 from July to September. 

New Zealand First's executive members - Winston Peters, Shane Jones, Tracey Martin, Ron Mark and Fletcher Tabuteau - spent $300,016 during the same period. 

It means the Greens' four executive members spent about 26 percent of what New Zealand First's five executive members spent - but there does seem to be an explanation for it. 

New Zealand First's executive members include the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters and the Minister for Regional Economic Development Shane Jones, who both travel frequently. 

Peters, for example, is currently in the United Arab Emirates where he's visiting New Zealand's Expo 2020 pavilion and meeting officials to discuss Middle East security issues. 

Before that, Peters was in Japan, attending the G20 Foreign Ministers' meeting. 

The frequent travel has contributed to New Zealand First's high executive expenses compared to the Greens, whose executive members haven't clocked up as much international travel. 

Similarly, Labour MPs David Parker and Damien O'Connor, the Minister and Associate Minister for Trade and Export Growth, respectively, both had high international travel expenses. 

The Green Party's executive members include the Minister for Climate Change (Shaw), Minister for Conservation (Sage) and Minister for Women (Genter) - portfolios that don't require as much overseas travel. 

The July to September period showed New Zealand First executive members spent $150,369 on international travel expenses compared to the Greens' $6121. 

The same trend could be seen in the expense figures from April to June. 

It showed the Green Party's executive members spent a total of $83,034 during that period compared to New Zealand First's executive members who spent $331,167. 

The Greens declined to comment on the differences. 

A New Zealand First spokesperson pointed to the difference in executive portfolios. 

Travel expenses include accommodation in Wellington and not in Wellington, regional vehicle and air travel, VIP transport (for those who are offered it), and international air travel. 

Labour's 21 executive members - including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern - spent a total of $1.1 million on expenses, $534,188 of which was on international travel. 

The Prime Minister's accommodation costs also aren't listed as she's put up in Premier House in Wellington.

Expense documents show National leader Simon Bridges spent the most out of non-executive member MPs as the Leader of the Opposition, spending $40,451 from July to September. 

His spending has significantly dropped from the June quarter last year when he spent $113,973 during his 'getting to know Simon' roadshow. 

Bridges used to be charged at $171 per hour for VIP transport while ministers were charged at $68 per hour. But from July, the Leader of the Opposition was charged at the same rate as ministers. 

House Speaker Trevor Mallard said the change was implemented to "ensure consistency, increase transparency, and reduce the confusion that the different rates have created". 

Bridges was followed by National Party deputy leader Paula Bennett as the second-highest spending non-executive MP. She spent $38,932. 

The lowest-spending MP was Labour MP Greg O'Connor who spent just $2782. 

MP spending for July to September (including executive)

  • ACT: $21,108
  • Green: $147,563
  • Labour: $1.5 million
  • National: $1.1 million
  • NZ First: $366,186
  • Independent (Jami-Lee Ross): $15,250
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