Foreign, trade ministers spend more, says Key

Prime Minister John Key was keen today to point out that trade and foreign affairs ministers, from both sides of the political spectrum, were likely to spend more because of their roles.

"It comes with the territory, we're often trying to sign up a trade deal," he told reporters.

"At one point it might be a bit ridiculous to ask a minister to start telling the other minister that he's entertaining to go halves on the bill."

Mr Key said the public understood that.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully agreed and said there was "absolutely not" anything he had to pay back.

"New Zealand is a country that earns its way through trade and investment, tourism, we need to be out there waving our flag and from time to time that means some hospitality."

That has always been the practice and should not be changed, he said.

Mr McCully said he was happy to defend expenditure made in his name, his staff have credit cards not him, and believed it was clear what was and was not a legitimate expense.

Media sensationalism over reporting was not helpful, he said.

Credit card accounts for current and past foreign ministers received by journalists under the Official Information Act yesterday support Mr Keys' claim.

Former foreign affairs and trade ministers under the Labour government including Phil Goff, Jim Sutton and Winston Peters had much larger piles of accounts than most of their colleagues.

Mr McCully also had a large number of legitimate transactions.


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