An under-fire Steven Joyce has defended his ministry after it spent $140,000 on a screen and some $260,000 on a "sun deck".

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has been lambasted in recent weeks for extravagant spending.

Mr Joyce, the economic development minister, has appeared before a spirited commerce select committee hearing at Parliament today.

"What proportion of New Zealand businesses...have a $140,000 TV in their foyer?" Labour MP David Clark asked Mr Joyce.


He asked a similar question about the $260,000 deck.

"I'm not defending the individual items," Mr Joyce said. "I am positive we have achieved some pretty significant savings overall."

Mr Joyce was always making "micro-managing requests", Mr Clark said, so it was odd he wasn't consulted on items such as a sign outside MBIE headquarters costing tens of thousands of dollars.

Mr Clark said a "culture of extravagance" was at work in MBIE.

Mr Joyce said lessons had been learned from the recent high-profile spending revelations.

He said bureaucrats were told even if a major project such as a building refit was achieved under budget, that did not mean they could spend up large on individual items.

Mr Joyce said he was "disappointed" with some senior management about the items.

But he told media it wasn't his place to sack people.


"I provided some feedback to the State Services Commissioner on this issue which was negative but then I also supply him feedback at other times, on other things, which are positive."

The hefty price tag follows controversy over revelations this month that the ministry spent $70,000 of taxpayer money on a stone sign for the building entrance.

Judith Collins hit back at the Labour party, saying it was disingenuous to criticise the ministry for installing a hair straightener at its Wellington headquarters.

"Can't believe that the so-called party of the workers are objecting to MBIE women staff having access to hair straighteners," she wrote on Twitter today.