Green MP's taxpayer-funded trip questioned

Mojo Mathers said the journey was a necessary expense. Photo / NZ Herald
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 disabilities.

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 rural communities."

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 $550.

The Taxpayers Union questioned whether it was value for money.

"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

Affirmative

Conspiracy theory comes from the Right

So National Party Regional chair Ele Ludemann speculated on her blog that Jordan Williams might have been set up.

 

 

Williams

He could only comment on what he was presented with though right? Otherwise one would never comment for fear of not having further information. I am not the only one to ponder the possibility of a deliberate strategy to entrap Williams

Conspiracy suggestion a joke

“Williams was somewhat set up to fail here to make the tax payer union look bad.”

That is laughable! Set up by whom? If Jordan Williams didn’t want to look bad, he shouldn’t have made such nasty, petty comments about Mojo Mathers when approached by the Herald. To suggest that this a conspiracy aimed at the "taxpayer union" is paranoid and ridiculous.

Conspiracy?

Jordan Williams didn't hunt this out or publicise it - he was asked about it by the Herald and gave comment based on the information he was provided with. Subsequent information reveals that Mathers tied this trip in with other work in Wellington, thus legitimising the trip which would have otherwise been wasteful. Therefore Williams was somewhat set up to fail here to make the tax payer union look bad.

Green MP not a hypocrite for doing her job

What incredible double standards from Jordan Williams of the Taxpayer's union, why hasn't he challenged John Key for travelling here to open a brewery?

A Green MP travelled to Masterton (hardly the 'middle of nowhere") to discuss issues related to her portfolio. The Prime Minister (with entourage) came South for photo opportunities. His trip would have cost 10x more and yet the Taxpayer's union complain about Mojo Mathers. Poor show ODT for reprinting this biased article.

A good MP

You are not an MP representing disabilities in NZ.   Not everyone wants to hide away in a room texting. I am being blunt here. Mojo may well have meet with people with disabilities on the trip.  I have had contact with Mojo as an MP, she is on the  job and focussed and you hear from Mojo right away.  Some MPs never reply to their correspondence.

What a small minded little group

What a small minded little group of people. Are they really checking up on what the Green MPs are doing?  If this self appointed group of taxpayer guardians has a problem, complain to the House. I bet you won't.  Awful people.

Heard of Skype?

Why is there any need for a green MP to be taking fossil fueled travel, especially for a relatively benign return, to travel all that way and emit all than carbon just to appear on a radio show that reaches who?

More hypocrisy from the Greens especially when they want to deny others the ability to travel by modern means when it suits them.

Why couldn't she have skyped this interview after all the listeners wouldn't of known any different.

 

Simple solution

So the justification given was that she needed to be in studio so that she could lip read.  Is there any reason why the questions couldn't have been presented to her in text format via chat room, sms etc?  I have remote meetings all the time in which content is displayed visually (including participants typing questions for the moderator to respond to), so it seems relatively clear that the member of parliament made a poor decision on this occasion.

Mojo Mathers' good work

This is a totally mean-spirited attack from this National/ACT/Libertarian mob. Sadly, I expect we will be seeing much more of this type of thing throughout the election campaign. In some ways even responding to them gives them oxygen and a level of credibility that is undeserved.

Mojo Mathers clearly works hard representing her contituents, and people with disabilities more generally. Engaging with small/rural communities is an important part of being an MP, and Access Radio is one positive tool for that.

I doubt Jordan Williams, David Farrar et all have even bothered to listen to the discussion- which can be dowlnloaded from Arrow FM here

Maybe a few more facebook "likes" for the show or the station might appease them.

I couldn't have said it better Brian D

I was going to comment on this ridiculous bit of beat up but found that Brian had said everything I wanted to, much more pithily than I would have done.

I'd only add that what's amazing to me is that Jordan Williams thinks this is the most important issue for him to be commenting on at this time. Perhaps he might like to turn his mighty mind to the consequences of the free market in action with reference to unemployed Hillside workers, becalmed rail customers & Kiwirail workers potentially exposed to asbestos?

Mojo Mathers - an honest hard-working MP. We need more like her.

The so-called "Taxpayers Union" is not representative of taxpayers, only a small group of right wing opponents of publically-funded services. Check out their website to see what they actually stand for .... it's not what most taxpayers expect in services they need and use. 

Why aren't they complaining about John Key's trips to play golf with his rich mates at the Hills, Steven Joyce's visit to the same property, John Key's self-promoting opening of a new brewery for Lion, Minister Tim Groser's infamous minibar bills and the hundreds of other dubious trips and expenditure at taxpayer cost?

Mojo Mathers is an honest hardworking MP who provides hope and inspiration to thousands of New Zealanders with disabilities. She offers a voice for people who are woefully under-represented in our Parliament and does that at considerable personal cost and with heroic effort.

The wealthy lawyer Mr Jordan Williams' comments are a mean and petty attack on a decent and dedicated politician. New Zealand would be better off with more politicians of Mojo's calibre.

 

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