Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

McCully's Cloudy Bay blunder - $733 for four bottles of sav

Foreign Minister Murray McCully paid back the Papua New Guinea wine bill. Photo: Mark Mitchell
Foreign Minister Murray McCully paid back the Papua New Guinea wine bill. Photo: Mark Mitchell

Foreign Minister Murray McCully has repaid the liquor bill for a working lunch out of his own pocket after discovering he had racked up $800 on four bottles of New Zealand wine.

The revelations came after spending by MPs and ministers was released today by the Speaker, showing their bills for travel and accommodation.

Expense claims showed that Mr McCully's credit card was charged PGK1272 ($733, at the time) for four bottles of Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc at a Papua New Guinea restaurant in August.

A spokesman said the minister paid back the bill after finding out how much he had been charged.

The Marlborough wine retails for between $35 and $40 in New Zealand stores.

Mr McCully's total spending on travel and accommodation between October and December was $66,558 - a relatively low amount for a Foreign Minister, owing to his break from work following surgery.

In total, Government ministers spent $1,013,080 between October and December, up from $947,222 in the previous quarter. MPs spent $1,720,579, up from $1,576,299 in the previous quarter.

The biggest-spending minister was former Trade Minister Tim Groser, who left Parliament in December to become New Zealand's ambassador in Washington last month.

In his final three months in the job, which included the final negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a trip to Paris for landmark climate talks, his travel bill was $203,692. That compared with $174,804 in the previous quarter.

Mr Groser also travelled to Hong Kong, Indonesia, Belgium and the UK.

Groser's total expenses were $224,995.

The biggest-spending MP was Labour leader Andrew Little, whose bill for travel and accommodation was $34,602 - twice as much as the previous quarter.

Mr Little's bill was higher because of an official trip as Leader of the Opposition to China, where he met with Chinese vice-president Li Yuanchao. He also travelled to Australia to lobby for expat New Zealanders' rights before a select committee, and to the United States in December.

The next biggest-spending MPs were National's Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean and Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox.

In Justice Minister Amy Adams' case, credit card receipts revealed a varying standard of accommodation.

Ms Adams travelled to India last September as part of a business delegation and in her role as Communications Minister, and stayed in five-star luxury at the Taj Mahal New Delhi and The Taj West End Bangalore.

But last November, with Auckland accommodation almost entirely booked out because of a Fleetwood Mac concert, she opted for the Manukau Motor Lodge when in Auckland to speak at a White Ribbon dinner.

Demand meant a higher than usual room price of $350 - not much cheaper than the room charge of $440 at the Taj Mahal New Delhi.

- NZ Herald

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