Foreign Minister Murray McCully has dismissed reports New Zealand's embassy in Tokyo plans to spend almost $1 million on upgrading its swimming pool and exercise complex.
An eight-year upgrade at the embassy in Tokyo has seen $903,304 set aside for the project with more than half a million being spent this financial year.
Another $93,000 was earmarked to be spent in the next financial year with 16 apartments, a new badminton court area and gym all included in the Tokyo upgrade.
Last week, the Ministry announced that embassies would be closing, 305 jobs would be cut and an outsourced consular hotline for distressed New Zealanders overseas as part of a proposed radical overhaul.
Labour's foreign affairs spokesperson Phil Goff criticised the planned upgrade, saying there was a "perverted sense of priority'' within the Ministry.
"It is totally nice to have but luxury and unnecessary when core roles are being lost in the Ministry.''
However Mr McCully says the figure was a quote from an independent contractor and there are no plans to actually spend the money.
"It runs expressly against the instruction I gave some weeks ago that at a time when people were having to have their jobs reappraised for the ministry, we should cut back the capital expenditure budgets and significant maintenance to bare essentials only."
Mr McCully denies claims he's been avoiding comment on the job cuts at his department.
"Anyone who's wanted to ask me a question I think has been able to put it to me. I've put out a press release to go out with the consultation document last Friday."
But he has proven elusive to interview, his whereabouts even becoming the subject of discussion in the House.