Mojo Mathers said the journey was a necessary expense.
Photo / NZ Herald
Questions are being asked about a taxpayer-funded trip
for deaf MP Mojo Mathers to be interviewed on a small
provincial radio station.
The Green MP says the 800km trip on the taxpayer dollar was
essential, but a taxpayer group queries whether it was
fiscally and environmentally responsible.
On Friday, Parliament's only deaf MP flew from Christchurch
to Wellington, then drove to Masterton, to participate in
ArrowFM's Wheels on Fire programme for people with
ArrowFM is one of 12 Community Access Radio stations in New
Zealand, and the only community station in Wairarapa. Its
audience is not known, but its Facebook page has 132 "likes".
Last night Ms Mathers said the journey was a necessary
expense because it was "almost impossible for me to do live
interviews over the phone".
She needed to be face-to-face with the interviewer in order
to lip read, she said, especially for a one-hour show.
"As the only disabled Member of Parliament it is really
important I represent disabled New Zealanders, which make up
one in five New Zealanders," she said.
"MPs do have to fly a fair bit to get out to our communities.
All Green MPs offset our air travel and try to minimise it as
much as possible.
"I consider all requests to meet very carefully, including
this one, and I felt it was really important to take this
opportunity to speak to disabled New Zealanders living in
She did not know the cost of the trip, she said, but it would
be declared as part of her expenses, and was planned in line
with other work she had to undertake in Wellington.
Standard Air NZ flexible fares between Christchurch and
Wellington are $199 each way. A small rental car from one of
the suppliers used by the Parliamentary Service is $148 - so
the trip is likely to have cost the taxpayer a little under
The Taxpayers Union questioned whether it was value for
"It's amazing that she has so little to do with her time to
actually travel to a community radio that probably has as
many listeners as you can count on your hand," director
Jordan Williams said.
"The only silver lining is that the time spent travelling to
go on the station in the middle of nowhere is less time spent
dreaming up new ways to spend tax payers money."
- Patrice Dougan