MPs use your t' />

Today for the first time we got to see how MPs use your taxpayer funds.

More than $7 million is involved in a six-month period - a hefty sum indeed.

Further updates are promised every three months.

nzherald.co.nz has taken a look back at some of the controversies involving ministerial and MP spending over recent years.


1. Greater transparency?
Herald political editor Audrey Young has been following this issue closely for some time. She wrote two years ago on a proposal by Speaker Margaret Wilson that the spending habits of ordinary MPs could become subject to greater public scrutiny if the Official Information Act could be adjusted to cover parliamentary spending.

MPs may face more scrutiny of spending (2007)
2. Don Brash
Former National Party leader Don Brash rankled some when he went on holiday in America while still being paid by New Zealand taxpayers.

Brash holidays in America on NZ taxpayers (2007)
3. Phillida Bunkle and Marian Hobbs
(Audrey Young): "Ministers Phillida Bunkle and Marian Hobbs were receiving allowances that out-of-town MPs got for staying in Wellington, when they were both enrolled as voters in the Wellington Central electorate, which they had contested in 1999.

"Both were cleared by the Auditor-General as being within the rules and following officials' advice but it marred their careers and Ms Bunkle was not reinstated as a minister."

Audrey Young: MPs' spending - lessons from abroad (May 2009)
4. Tauranga MP Bob Clarkson
Tauranga MP Bob Clarkson was accused by rival candidate and New Zealand First leader, Winston Peters, of exceeding the $20,000 limit allowed to political candidates for campaign expenses.

The three-judge Bench disagreed.

Court told Clarkson spent half his limit (2005)

5. Act MP Donna Awatere Huata
Former Act MP Donna Awatere Huata was accused of stealing $80,000 from the Pipi Foundation, of which she used $30,000 for school fees and a stomach stapling operation.

Huata and husband Wi Huata were found guilty of defrauding the Foundation. Awatere Huata was sentenced to two years and nine months at Wellington's Arohata Prison. Wi Huata was sentenced to two years but was granted bail.

Huata said cheque was for stomach stapling, court told (2005)
6. Jonathan Hunt

In one of many cases brought to the public's attention by perk-buster Rodney Hide, it was revealed that the Speaker of the House, Jonathan Hunt, once spent $29,170 on taxis in just the one year.

Vernon Small: Transparency about MPs' perks? Yeah, right (2002)
7. Different approaches
"While British MPs are squirming over revelations about how some of their number have gamed their parliamentary allowances, there is no sign of similar worry by MPs on this side of the globe..." wrote Audrey Young in this column of May 12.

Audrey Young: MPs' allowances approach avoids woes facing Britons (2009)
8. Taito Philip Field
It's not exactly in the "MPs spending" category, but it's related. Field is in court this week, facing 12 charges of bribery and corruption as an MP, after allegedly having Thai nationals carry out work on his properties in New Zealand and Samoa in return for immigration assistance between November 2002 and October 2005.

Field was originally suspended on full pay while allegations related to immigration matters were investigated.

Field jury told to put political views aside (today)
Field's workers paid little or nothing, Crown claims (2007)

- NZHERALD STAFF