The Herald reports:
A group of Auckland councillors have managed to retain a business-class-travel perk, but a bid to give them free parking has been voted down.
The move comes as reduced library hours, street cleaning and an end to inorganic rubbish collections are on the table for sweeping budget cuts.
George Wood, Christine Fletcher, Denise Krum and Calum Penrose were among those who voted yesterday to defeat an amendment by councillor John Watson to restrict business-class air travel to health grounds only.
Councillors get to keep the perk of sitting in business class when taking flights of more than six hours and conducting council business within 24 hours of landing at an overseas destination.
It took the casting vote of finance committee chairman and Labour councillor Ross Clow to keep the status quo in the elected members’ expenses policy, despite many of his left-wing colleagues voting to tighten the rules.
Right wingers Cameron Brewer and Dick Quax supported the left to tighten the rules.
Mr Clow justified his decision on the basis that elected representatives needed to turn up fresh and fully prepared to represent Auckland after long-haul travel beyond most of Australia.
I’m not an advocate of no business class travel ever for Councillors. If you are flying to London for example, I think business class is appropriate, as otherwise it takes ages to recover from a 24 to 30 hour plane trip.
But a threshold of six hours seems too low for me. You don’t need business class to Perth or Hawaii or some of Asia. A fair policy I think might be:
- Economy for flights up to six hours
- Premium Economy for flights of six to 12 hours
- Business for over 12 hours