I don’t think I have ever criticised the PM, Foreign Affairs Minister or Trade Ministers for their overseas travel bills. Overseas travel is an essential part of their job. In fact I’m even a fan of other Ministers travelling if they are not doing Auckland City Council type junkets, but are having genuinely useful meetings. Often policy innovation for a country comes from talking to and learning from other countries.
But I can’t let pass without comment the Foreign Affairs Minister chalking up $250,000 in just three months. That is almost as much as Phil Goff spent in a full year as Foreign Minister.
His office says that travel during that period includes two European trips, one US trip and one Asian trip. As a seasoned traveller myself I have a fair idea of business class travel costs to these places. Europe is around $9,000, USA $7,500 and Asia around $6,000. Assume one member of his private staff travels with him (MFAT would pay for their own officials) and the airfares are around $63,000.Now you can get four to five star accommodation accomodation for US$400 a night so two rooms is around NZ$1,200 a night. Assume each trip is ten days, and 40 x $1,200 is around $50,000. Also add on $12,000 or so for meals (in reality the hosts will pick up most costs) and my generous estimate is $125,000 for Peters and one staff member.
So either Peters is travelling with three staff members from his private political office, or he is staying at some incredibly expensive hotels.