Revealed: How much has been paid out to former Prime Ministers for travel perks

Former Prime Ministers can receive payments of up to $57,000 per year as well as travel perks when they step down as New Zealand's leader.

Having served as Prime Minister for more than two years - taking office in late 2017 and resigning in January this year - it's something Jacinda Ardern is eligible for.

The annuities former Prime Ministers and Governors-General are eligible for are set out in the Parliamentary Annuities Determination 2022. The annuity is reviewed every year and adjusted as appropriate. 

Currently, a person who had held the office of Prime Minister for not less than two years - whether continuously or in total - can receive $11,400 for each complete year they served in the office up to a maximum of $57,000 per year until they die. Their spouse or partner is also paid an annuity at half that yearly rate.

There are also travel perks for any work former Prime Ministers do as a result of having once been in office. This includes free scheduled air travel and the use of a chauffeur-driven car "for fulfilling commitments to the role of former Prime Minister". 

The latest annual reports from the Department of Internal Affairs detail how much has been paid out each year to former Prime Ministers.

For the 2021-2022 year, $227,433 was spent on travel for former Prime Ministers and their spouses. 

That includes $33,749 for Sir Bill English, $3206 for Sir John Key, $37,297 for Helen Clark, $45,737 for Dame Jenny Shipley, $36,900 for Jim Bolger, and $32,171 for Sir Geoffrey Palmer. The vast majority of that was spent on surface travel ($177,585).

The overall travel spend was up significantly from the annual reporting year beforehand.

In the 2020-2021 reporting year, $143,382 was spent on travel. 

Of that, $15,438 was for Sir Bill, $11,182 for Sir John, $26,947 for Clark, $21,268 for Dame Jenny and $20,733 for Bolger and $15,785 for Sir Geoffrey.

The year prior, $140,001 was spent on travel, in the 2018-2019 year $131,165 was spent, and $111,116 was spent in the 2017-2018 year. 

Ardern resigned as Prime Minister in January, citing a lack of energy left in the tank to do the job 100 percent. 

She told Newshub on Wednesday the prospect of potentially losing at the 2023 election wasn't why she stood down as Prime Minister.

"It wasn't about that for me. No. In 2017, people thought that that was an election where I would lose. I wasn't afraid of that. This decision was solely about whether I was the right person to keep going, given how I was feeling."

She said events like the Auckland floods and Cyclone Gabrielle that happened weeks after she stood down were a "demonstration" of the events that come a government's way.

"Having gone through some significant crises alongside New Zealand, you do not know what will come your way, but you have to have enough in reserve to take on whatever it is.

"Yes, I could do the job and I could keep going. But did I have enough in reserve that if another significant event came our way, let alone an election, could I hand on heart say that I was going to be there at 100 percent of my capacity for another three years? I knew casting forward I didn't have that in me."

Jacinda Ardern will deliver her valedictory statement on Wednesday evening at 5:30pm. will have live coverage of her speech.