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Taxpayers forking out for ministers limo rides in Northland

The by-election battle for Northland has seen a steady stream of Government ministers visit the region.

And all that travel is putting scrutiny on their use of taxpayer-funded resources like Crown limousines.

Northland has never seen so many Crown cars with a flock of ministers and MPs parading through the electorate every day to support National's candidate, Mark Osborne.

"It's pretty extraordinary that National is not only pork barrelling the electorate, but accessing the pork themselves to get themselves around the electorate," says Russel Norman, Green Party co-leader.

Labour leader Andrew Little is similarly outraged. "You've got Cabinet ministers by the dozen and National MPs by the baker's dozen going up there, finding places to build bridges in an area that they've represented for all but three of the last 70 years. They are desperate," he says.

Mr Osborne's New Zealand first opponent is also on the warpath. Winston Peters sees no justification for ministers using Crown cars to promote a National Party candidate.

But Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says: "It's not my job to make some argument about what the rules should be. Whatever the rules are, I will be following them and I'm sure my colleagues are following them."

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says he's been in Northland dealing with things like roading. "Obviously that I do as well as support a candidate as a Minister of the Crown."

Ministers Paula Bennett and Nikki Kaye, though, have chosen not to use their Crown limos.

"I didn't feel like I needed one. I was going to be with the candidate all day and he's got a vehicle so I just chose to go with him," says Ms Bennett, the Social Housing Minister.

This is all within the rules, says ONE News political reporter Katie Bradford. "MPs can use taxpayer-funded flights to jet anywhere in the country, no matter the reason," she says.

"Ministers can have their accommodation and Crown cars paid for for any reason at their own discretion.

"The question is whether taxpayers think it's an appropriate use of their dollars."

That's just another issue for voters to weigh up in Northland's by-election, Bradford says.

The steady stream of politicians to the region ahead of the by-election vote is putting scrutiny on how public money is being used. Source: 1 NEWS


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