National is accusing the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) of more extravagant spending, this time for post-Budget breakfast events featuring Labour MPs in May.
National said government responses to written parliamentary questions showed the ministry spent nearly $53,000 on the breakfast events.
It follows Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes criticising the ministry last month for spending more than $40,000 on a farewell for its departing chief executive last October.
National’s public service spokesperson Simeon Brown said Labour should also explain why the events were advertised as featuring the party’s Pacific MPs.
The responses showed the four events - in Auckland, Christchurch, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington - included nearly $25,000 on catering, nearly $5000 on venue hires, and more than $22,000 on audio and visual equipment.
“This shows Labour’s claims of fiscal prudence cannot be taken seriously, now or ever,” Brown said.
The events had been advertised online as “an opportunity for our stakeholders and communities to talanoa with ministry staff and government officials following this year’s Budget 2023 announcement”.
“The Honarable Barbara Edmonds, Minister for Pacific Peoples, will host the breakfast, together with the Honarable Carmel Sepuloni, Deputy Prime Minister, together with members of the Pacific caucus and other officials. Our chief executive, Gerardine Clifford-Lidstone, will also make an address.”
Brown said Labour leader Chris Hipkins must explain how the spending was able to go ahead, given an investigation into the farewell had already been launched.
“He should also explain how Kiwis can believe his spin on fiscal prudence when this was able to happen right under his nose.”
Brown told Morning Report the spending was unacceptable and needed to stop.
He disagreed the events were to share information from the Budget, describing them as “promotional events” for Labour MPs with no National MPs invited in an election year.
“The one in Hawke’s Bay cost $110 per person that attended ... this ministry is throwing money around like it grows on trees.”
Material from the Budget could have been shared in less expensive ways, such as by online means like Zoom.
Brown denied National was singling out the Ministry of Pacific Peoples, however, it had increased its spending by 477 per cent in the past five years.
He cited other examples where National had identified wasteful spending, including within the Ministry of the Environment and Waka Kotahi.
RNZ has approached Labour’s Pacific peoples spokesperson Barbara Edmonds for comment.
Senior National Party candidate Judith Collins, who is married to a man of Samoan descent, has weighed in on the latest lavish spending revelation involving the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.
In a social media post Collins has slammed the ministry for its five-figure breakfast spend following the May budget calling it “totally unacceptable.”