The Dom Post reports:
Judges have clocked up more than $18 million on travel and accommodation over the past three years, including five overseas trips where Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias took along husband and business tycoon Hugh Fletcher at taxpayers’ expense.
Mr Fletcher, whose family’s wealth was estimated at $70m last year, accompanied Dame Sian to the Caribbean Turks and Caicos islands in 2009-10 for a Commonwealth Magistrates Judges Association conference. That year, he also accompanied her to the United States, London and Melbourne.
Judges must pay personally for spousal travel, except where the chief justice attends in a representative capacity and is accompanied by her spouse.
The fact Hugh Fletcher is wealthy is beside the point.
If the Governor-General travels overseas, do we expect his wife to pay her own travel bills if she attends also? Of course not.
One could legitimately question whether the total number of trips taken is prudent, but I think we look petty if we question whether the spouse of the Chief Justice should have to pay for their own travel, when accompanying them on official duties.
And as for the $18m spent over three years, few would note this part:
Mr Pigou said most domestic claims related to circuit work by some 170 judges who travel around New Zealand.
I mean, we could have all court sittings in major cities only, so no Judges need to travel. But the many witnesses, victims, and defendants would be disadvantaged then.
Over the three years till June 2011, judges of the High Court, Supreme Court and Appeal Court spent $5.2m on domestic air travel and accommodation (including allowances), car rentals, taxis and mileage. Their international travel bill was $281,000.
District court judges spent $8.3m on domestic travel costs and $404,000 on international travel.
The amount of international travel is a small proportion of the overall travel bill.No tag for this post.