The campaign you’re all paying for!

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

The three contenders for the Labour leadership have confirmed taxpayers are stumping up for the cost of them flying around the country to pitch for votes.

Labour MPs are also likely to charge their flights to the taxpayer for attending any of the 12 candidates meetings planned around the country over the next two weeks.

The three contenders – Grant Robertson, David Cunliffe and Shane Jones – confirmed they would use the travel perk to campaign over the next twarging their o weeks.

But they will pay for all their other expenses, such as accommodation, out of their own pockets.

Annette King has tried to justify this by saying MPs flights to party conferences get paid by Parliament also.

But I think there is a difference. MPs get invited to or are expected to attend many conferences and engagements around New Zealand. They attend business conferences, union conferences, party conferences, rotary club meetings and the like.

But this is different. This is three MPs choosing to stand for the leadership of a party, and attending meetings explicitly to persuade people to vote for them to become leader.

I think that is closer to a campaign expense, than a parliamentary expense, even though it is within the rules.

Just as the party leaders don’t charge their campaign travel to the taxpayer in a general election, prospective party leaders should not do so in a leadership election. They’re in line for a huge pay rise if they win, so surely paying for a few flights is a good investment?

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