She lives in New York, but former prime minister Helen Clark still claims about $20,000 a year in domestic travel from New Zealand taxpayers.
Can’t be too busy in the job, if she has that much time to travel around NZ!
And Jim Bolger, who has not been prime minister since 1997, spent more than most of today’s working MPs between 2011 and 2012, when taxpayers forked out $51,500 in travel expenses for him and his wife.
I think it is reasonable to meet the travel expenses of former PMs, but in return they should be reasonable with how much they use it.
Current Prime Minister John Key and all his predecessors will receive unrestricted free travel for life. However, an amendment last year means his successors and their spouses will be able to claim public money for travel only to fulfil their commitments as former prime ministers.
The Law Commission recommended in 2010 the unrestricted entitlement be reviewed in light of “current trends towards greater restraint and accountability in the use of public money”.
That’s as it should be. A former PM not have a public role, and will be invited to events around NZ. If they are travelling to fulfill such a commitment, I’m happy for that expense to be met. But if they are travelling for recreation or business, then it should not be.