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$3.7m in travel and annuities paid out to former Prime Ministers, Governors-General and spouses over past five years

More than $3.7 million in travel perks and annuities has been paid out to former Prime Ministers, Governors-General and their surviving spouses over the past five years.

Latest Department of Internal Affairs figures, obtained under the Official Information Act, show full details of the payments made to sixteen people claiming their entitlements under the Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Act.

Under the Act, former Prime Ministers and Governors-General receive a yearly payment after they leave office, called an annuity, as well as taxpayer-funded travel, public transport, and a new taxpayer-funded car every 60,000km.

The perk extends to the surviving spouses of the former PMs and GGs, and there are currently four people claiming the spouse annuity - Lady Norma Beattie, Lady Beverley Reeves, Lady Glen Elna Rowling (Bill Rowling's widow) and Margaret Pope (David Lange's widow).

The Department of Internal Affairs would only release the latest figures after they had consulted with those receiving the entitlements.

To view a larger version of the the chart below, click here.

A spreadsheet showing total annuity and transport privilege payments made to former Governors-General, Prime Ministers and their surviving spouses between 2013-2018. Source: 1 NEWS

A total of $834,977 was claimed in the 2017/18 year, made up of $173,804 in transport and $661,173 in annuity payments.

The figures show Sir John Key has begun claiming his yearly annuity, collecting $51,964 in the 2017-18 year, as well as a pro-rata payment of $10,792 the year before. He has also claimed about $11,000 in travel for each of the past two years.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Sir Bill English. Source: Luke Appleby/1 NEWS NOW

Sir Bill English claimed $5,764 in travel costs for the 2017-18 year - but is not entitled to a life-long yearly annuity.

The yearly annuity is only paid to former PMs or surviving spouses who held office for more than two years, meaning four of those receiving perks are not eligible, including Sir Bill.

A change to the travel perks legislation in 2017 made it so Prime Ministers - from Bill English onwards - are required to prove their travel costs are related to their former role - but for those who held office before 2014, no such justification is needed.

Former Governor-General Dame Sylvia Cartwright spent the most on travel last year at $20,315, while Sir Anand Satyanand was next with $12,479.

Of the former PMs, Jim Bolger spent the most on travel last year, with $27,610, followed by Jenny Shipley with a spend of $18,547, Geoffrey Palmer on $17,469 and Helen Clark on $13,607.

The 2017/18 total is up 3.9 per cent on the 2016/17 total of $803,436, and a total of $3,727,393 has been paid out to all parties over the past five years.

The annuities paid out are generally increased each year in the Parliamentary Annuities Determination and the maximum claimable yearly annuity has increased by 8.6 per cent over the past five years for Prime Ministers and surviving spouses, while for former Governors General and spouses, the increase has been 10.2 per cent.

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Former Prime Ministers and Governors' General were paid million in annuities last year. Source: 1 NEWS