Labour MPs competing for the party leadership have defended the use of taxpayer money to fund their nationwide campaigns, saying they did not make the rules.

MPs Grant Robertson, David Cunliffe, and Shane Jones were asked this morning whether they should be paying for their own travel as they campaigned to be leader over the next three weeks.

Mr Cunliffe said the party had sought advice from Parliamentary Services, which had confirmed that the campaign-related flights and phone calls were covered, but taxis, accommodation and other costs were not.

He said: "The rules are not decided by me. We will follow the rules as we are given them."


He added: "The selection of a party leader is both a party process and arguably a proper process for the Parliamentary process too, because party leaders have both a party role and a Parliamentary role."

Mr Jones confirmed that he had driven from Kerikeri to Auckland yesterday "in a 4WD drive that I own", and had paid for the petrol himself.

"Parliamentary Services have ruled that we are entitled to exercise our Parliamentary air travel. That is a decision that's been made and it's one that I'll abide by.

"Any than that, I'll take it out of my own pocket."

Labour whip Chris Hipkins said the candidates were being very careful about making a clear distinction between Parliamentary and campaign-related expenses.

He stressed that the MPs would continue doing their Parliamentary jobs while they campaigned for the leadership position.