The New Zealand Taxpayers' Union says the claim a $1000 chauffeur-driven car was Clare Curran's "cheapest option" for transport between Brisbane and the Gold Coast in April appears to be "bogus".
This comes as ministers' spending details have finally been made public after weeks of delay due to a processing error by the Department of Internal Affairs.
Those receipts reveal that on a visit to the Commonwealth Games in April, Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran took a chauffeur-driven car from Brisbane to the Gold Coast at a cost of $1000.
In a statement released today, Taxpayers' Union Executive Director Jordan Williams said: "We're not convinced the Minister's trip to Queensland for, 'a first-hand look at what it takes to broadcast a multi-media mega sports event', was necessary at all.
"Assuming it was, you'd hope she would have ensured value for taxpayers.
"Unfortunately, she chose to use a limo service between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, costing her $529, and $537 on the return leg.
"With the Minister currently on personal leave, her staff have told media the limo was the 'cheapest option' available. This seems completely made up. A brief search reveals Uber's fare estimate to be a quarter of the limo's price," the statement reads.
Labour MP Clare Curran was absent from Parliament today after taking personal leave.
A statement from a spokesperson for the Prime Minister read: "Clare Curran was on personal leave from the house today.
"She spoke with leader of the house Chris Hipkins last night and confirmed her absence with him at 9.30am this morning."
It comes after the MP was rattled in Parliament when asked yesterday by National MP Melissa Lee about the use of her personal email for Government business.
When asked, "what Government business has she conducted via her Gmail account", Ms Curran appeared flustered and said she had just answered that question. She was told by the Speaker to answer the question.
Ms Curran responded: "To the best of my recollection, um, ah, ah, I haven't, um, I haven't used my, um I've answered um OIA, ah, ah, OIA responses and personal, um and parliamentary questions correctly and to the best of my recollection, um, ah, you know, that, that has, that's what I've done."
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters defended Ms Curran's performance in the House today, telling Paula Bennett that "we all have an off day, and no one would understand that better than the member asking the question".
The Prime Minister last month accepted Ms Curran's offer to resign from her Government Digital Services portfolio and Open Government responsibilities.
In February, Ms Curran had met with tech entrepreneur Derek Handley at her Beehive office in her capacity as Minister of Government Digital Services to discuss Mr Handley’s interest in the vacant Chief Technology Officer role.
The meeting was not recorded in Ms Curran's diary, neither her staff nor officials were made aware of it and it was later mistakenly left out of an answer to a parliamentary question.
The failure to disclose the Handley meeting came after Ms Curran held a meeting with Radio NZ’s Carol Hirschfeld in December.
This resulted in Ms Hirschfeld resigning after she initially mislead then-Radio NZ board chair Richard Griffin over the meeting, telling him it was accidental.
That led to Mr Griffin and RNZ CEO Paul Thompson then inadvertently making false statements to a Parliamentary Select Committee over the nature of the meeting - which was in fact pre-planned.