Fine wines, controversial French delicacies and a
protected species of fish have all been slapped on the
taxpayers' tab by government ministers.
Thousands of dollars in domestic travel and a New York
internet connection are also revealed in the latest round of
MPs' spending records.
Disgraced National List MP Claudette Hauiti was among the
biggest spenders in the April to June period, chalking up
$30,824 in domestic travel alone, while Foreign Minister
Murray McCully spent $320 on four bottles of vino at a US
Trade Minister Tim Groser is being singled out for scrutiny
after he and two officials ordered Antarctic toothfish - a
species which New Zealand is going to huge lengths to protect
- at a Singapore restaurant in January, the ministerial
credit card receipts released by the Department of Internal
The receipt says Mr Groser spent $300 on the meal at Table
for 7, which included Chilean sea bass - also known as
Patagonian or Antarctic toothfish - and a $90 bottle of
Central Otago pinot noir.
Mr Groser was in Singapore for Trans-Pacific Partnership
talks, and the meal was declared as a "delegation dinner
hosted by the minister".
New Zealand has been working for years with the United States
to establish a marine reserve in Antarctica to protect
species including the toothfish.
The dish has been banned by some US chefs and supermarkets.
It is rarely sold in New Zealand because it is a delicacy
that fetches around $70 a kilogram in the US and Asia.
Another of the menu choices, foie gras, is a controversial
dish. Activists have long protested against "fatty liver"
because making it involves force-feeding a live duck or
Mr Groser's office did not respond to requests for comment
Credit card returns showed that Mr McCully bought internet
access in New York on the day his office was sent an email
about Malaysian diplomat Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail
invoking diplomatic immunity.
The minister has said the email was not opened because
communications were limited as he travelled to New York.
Labour MP David Shearer said the new evidence meant Mr
McCully's excuse was "in tatters".
"He has blamed [Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade]
officials and no internet connection for not knowing about a
MPs were told on Wednesday the email was not opened until
June - at least nine days later. Mr McCully was not informed
that Rizalman had claimed immunity and fled until late June.
Mr McCully's office said he could not respond while an
inquiry was ongoing.
Trade Minister Tim Groser: Foie gras, bean curd omelette,
porcini souffle, Chilean sea bass, challand duck, pinot noir
at Singapore restaurant Table at 7. Cost: $300
Foreign Minister Murray McCully: Four bottles of white wine
at Docks Oyster Bar, New York. Cost: $320
Biggest-spending minister: Tim Groser, $201,841.
Biggest-spending MP: Hone Harawira, $52,845.
- Department of Internal Affairs, April 1 2013 to June 30