Newshub reveals official info shows $57k spent upgrading Prime Minister's office

Clarification: Since this story was first published, the Speaker of the House Gerry Brownlee – who answered the Written Parliamentary Question – has since provided Newshub with further information.

He said $15,000 was spent on the video conferencing equipment, with the remainder spent on IST equipment.

Some of the IST equipment is yet to be installed and not all of it may be destined for the Prime Ministers office, but it was all charged on the same invoice, therefore the Speaker felt he should report the full amount in response to the written question. 

The carpet replacement in the office came in on top of this cost at $17,000 - this was necessary due to moving some shelves to make room in the space. 

Brownlee told Newshub that since 2022 $287,000 had been spent on IST equipment in the buildings bringing the technology up to date, and that the same video conferencing equipment was available to the Leader of the Opposition.

An updated story follows:  

Newshub can reveal an answer to a Written Parliamentary Question says more than $50,000 of taxpayer money was spent doing up the Prime Minister's Beehive office when Christopher Luxon took over.

It comes as the spotlight is trained on MPs double-dipping public salaries, taking leave to go on reality television and scooting away from scrutiny.

Life's pretty cool at the top - the ninth floor feeling extra fancy lately as it got an upgrade after Luxon took office.

As the new Government slashes public spending, Newshub can reveal an answer to a Written Parliamentary Question shows $57,000 was spent on upgrading the Prime Minister's Beehive office.

"We're doing everything we can to make sure that we're getting good value for taxpayers and we're not treating them like an ATM machine," Luxon said.

"Premier House wasn't good enough for him, now it turns out the ninth-floor office of the Beehive also wasn't," Hipkins said. 

An answer to a written Parliament question said the Parliamentary Service has a replacement and upgrade cycle which is conducted every year and the $57,000 cost involved installing video conferencing gear.

There was already video conferencing equipment in the office - Labour used it for Cabinet meetings during COVID-19. 

"If it was okay to run the country during the period of COVID-19, I can't see why they would need to see thousands of dollars on new gear," Hipkins said.

It's not the first $50,000 perception problem the Prime Minister has faced. He had to U-turn on claiming an accommodation allowance to live in his own apartment after a public backlash. 

"Across Government, we are taking it really seriously... This is taxpayer's money, we are making sure we spend it correctly," Luxon said.

"Christopher Luxon certainly seems to have an elevated sense of entitlement. He's asking everyone else to tighten their belts, but is happy to spend money on himself," Hipkins said.

Luxon's crystal clear on reigning in public spending everywhere else. On Tuesday, he wade into the case of Jamie Arbuckle - the NZ First MP collecting two publicly funded salaries as he kept his job on the Marlborough District Council when he was elected.

"From my own point of view, I think being an MP at Parliament is a full-time job," Luxon said. 

Not long later, Arbuckle buckled, saying he'd give up the council job - and donate the money he'd been paid. 

"We all make mistakes, we all have a chance to reconsider... In the space of 24 hours it's all fixed up," NZ First leader Winston Peters said.

"MPs are paid full-time, that's a full-time job," Hipkins said. 

Hipkins facing a possible hypocrisy charge on that - he let his deputy leader take leave allegedly to film Celebrity Treasure Island. 

"[Carmel Sepuloni] took some personal leave earlier in the year for a couple of weeks, I approved that leave. In terms of what she did during that time, those are questions for her," Hipkins said.

The leave was extended after she injured herself on set. 

"No comment on where I was," Sepuloni said.

It seems islands are popular this time of year. Under-fire Green MP Julie Anne Genter jetted off to the Chatham Islands on Tuesday, while back in Parliament she was being reported to the Privileges Committee - Parliament's court - for her outburst last week. 

The Greens ruled out demoting her from the transport portfolio.

"Not at all. She's one of this country's most experienced and passionate MPs when it comes to transport," Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said.

Accountability dodged for another day.