Latest figures show the thousands in 'free' trips racked up by those elected pre-1990

Former MPs and their spouses have had the cost of their taxpayer-funded travel revealed for the first time - with some racking up bills of more than $12,000 in a year.

More than $716,000 was claimed by 154 people in the year to June 30. Several getting the perk have high-paying Government positions.

The biggest spenders include Rosalind Burdon, who claimed $12,913 and is the spouse of former National Cabinet minister Philip Burdon, who claimed $6126.

Of the former MPs, Labour's Harry Duynhoven and his wife spent $26,000. Act Party founder and former Labour finance minister Sir Roger Douglas and wife Lady Glennis spent $23,440 on international and domestic travel.

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The international travel rebate is capped at the equivalent of a return business-class flight to London each year and is available only to those who were elected before 1999.

Recent politicians using the perk include former National MP, Speaker and now High Commissioner to London Sir Lockwood Smith, who with his wife spent $22,000. Former Labour MP Chris Carter and partner Peter Kaiser totalled $19,640.

Sir Michael Cullen, now head of NZ Post and leading a review of New Zealand's intelligence agencies, spent with wife Anne $19,030. Sir Michael, who was finance minister in the Clark Labour Government from 1999 to 2008, said it had been part of the overall remuneration package for MPs before 1999 and would eventually diminish as those who were eligible died.

"I have no comment to make on something which was part of my remuneration as an MP from the very time I started in Parliament."

Seventy-seven former MPs claimed in 2014-15, at a total cost of $342,507 - $268,706 of which was for international travel. A larger cost came from 77 spouses of former politicians, who between them claimed $373,729 - $305,956 of which was on international flights.

The perk dates back to 1972 and former MPs have zealously defended it ever since, claiming it was part of their overall salary package and to compensate for taking lower pay increases.

The Prime Minister left the perk intact during his overhaul of MPs' travel and accommodation perks.

In another disclosure, spending on a domestic travel and chauffeured cars perk for former Governors- General and their spouses showed a total of $25,345 was claimed in 2014/15, with Sir Anand Satyanand claiming the most, at $11,835.

MPs can only claim the rebate for travel they pay for personally and it cannot be used for private business travel. Former MPs who served for three terms get a 60 per cent rebate, for four terms it is 75 per cent and five or more terms qualify for a 90 per cent rebate. They can also claim for up to 12 domestic return flights a year.

The law disqualifies anyone who has been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for a term of 2 years or more or a corrupt practice from using the perk - a change made in 2009 after former Labour MP Taito Phillip Field's conviction for bribery and corruption.

As well as the travel claims, there was a further $383,250 cost in fringe benefit taxes - meaning the total cost for 2014-15 was $1,117,623.

TOP 15 FORMER MPs:

Former MP/ year left Parliament and party/ amount claimed:

1.

Harry Duynhoven (2008, Labour): $13,793

2.

Sir Roger Douglas (2011, Labour/Act): $12,612

3.

Michael Bassett (1990, Labour): $11,836

4.

Sir Lockwood Smith (2013, National): $11,472

5.

Sir Kerry Burke (1990, Labour): $11,351

6.

Warren Kyd (2002, National): $9890

7.

Chris Carter (2011, Labour): $9551

8.

Marian Hobbs (2008, Labour): $9311

9.

John Carter (2011, National): $9216

10.

Sir Michael Cullen (2009, Labour): $9196

11.

Sir Douglas Kidd (2002, National): $8936

12.

Graeme Lee (1996, National/Christian Democrats): $8520

13.

Sir Jim McLay (1987, National): $8339

14.

Sir Don McKinnon (2000, National): $8332

15.

Clem Simich (2008, National): $7721

TOP 15 SPOUSES OF FORMER MPs:

1.

Rosalind Burdon - Philip Burdon (1996, National) $12,913

2.

Margaret Duynhoven - Harry DuynhoveN (2008, Labour) $12,144

3.

Noeline Colman - Fraser Colman (1987, Labour) $11,778

4.

Lady Clare De Lore - Sir Don McKinnon (2000, National) $11,469

5.

Judith Bassett - Michael Bassett (1990, Labour) $11,444

6.

Faheim Rastar Burke - Sir Kerry Burke (1990, Labour) $11,105

7.

Dianne Kyd - Warren Kyd (2002, National) $10,987

8.

Lady Jane Kidd - Sir Doug Kidd (2002, National) $10,907

9.

Lady Glennis Douglas - Sir Roger Douglas (2011 Labour/Act) $10,827

10.

Lady Alexandra Smith - Sir Lockwood Smith ((2013, National) $10,580

11.

Susannah Walker - Bert Walker (1978, National) $10,380

12.

Peter Kaiser - Chris Carter (2011, Labour) $10,088

13.

Anne Collins - Sir Michael Cullen (2009, Labour) $9835

14.

Leoni Carter - John Carter (2011, National) $9234

15.

Daphne Lee - Graeme Lee (1996, National, Christian Dem) $8520

Source: Parliamentary Service annual report 2014-2015, expenses for international and domestic air travel