Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Groser's travel costs soar in bid for WTO job

Minister of Trade Tim Groser. Photo / NZ Herald
Minister of Trade Tim Groser. Photo / NZ Herald

Trade Minister Tim Groser's international travel costs soared to almost $250,000 in the first three months of this year as he hit the international traps to lobby for support for his bid to be the Director General of the World Trade Organisation.

Mr Groser was formally nominated by New Zealand as a contender for the job in December last year, although it was publicly revealed he hoped to go for it at the end of August.

From January to the end of March this year he notched up $249,000 on his travels to campaign for that, including to Europe, the United States, Africa, the Caribbean and around the Pacific Islands to campaign for support for the bid, sometimes combining it with his trade or climate change duties.

Last year, Mr Groser's average spend on international travel was $145,400 per quarter and in 2011, it was $124,320 a quarter. His highest spend in any one quarter before that was $221,300 in the last three months of 2009.

The extra cost appears to have paid off - this week, Mr Groser, who initially described his bid as "a long shot," made it onto the shortlist of five candidates hoping to replace Director-General Pascal Lamy when he steps down in September.

In other expenses, Foreign Minister Murray McCully's international travel bill for the last quarter was just below $100,000.

On domestic costs, such as travel and accommodation, the highest spending minister was Prime Minister John Key, who spent $65,500 as well as $35,000 on international travel. His domestic costs were mainly on his Crown limo, which cost $56,350 for the quarter. Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia came in second, spending $57,350. After copping criticism for racking up costs of up to $78,000 in the past, Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples has pegged his costs back to $54,200.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira was the highest spending MP who is not a minister, spending $31,800. Of other party leaders, Labour's David Shearer spent $21,200 and NZ First leader Winston Peters spent $15,494. The Green Party co-leaders Metiria Turei and Russel Norman spent $21,100 and $7,330 respectively. Dr Norman is a Wellington-based MP and Wellington MPs do not qualify for accommodation allowances. United Future leader Peter Dunne, who is also a minister, spent $10,800 and had $56,100 in international travel.

- NZ Herald

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