PM defends taxpayer-funded trip to Japan

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is defending a taxpayer-funded trip to Japan by Parliament’s speaker, Trevor Mallard and National’s Gerry Brownlee.

The two travelled to Japan late last week for meetings and to watch the All Blacks game with Japan.

The Speaker’s office says the budget for the trip was $24,000, and the two MPs were there for two days.

ACT has labelled the trip a junket at the expense of the taxpayer, saying the meetings with Japanese parliamentarians were simply a pretext for going to the rugby.

But Mr Brownlee said that was not true.

“No we were quite, we had a proper programme that was all facilitated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.”

However the former speaker, National’s David Carter, was not supportive, saying he would not have done it.

Ms Ardern said the trip was worth it, particularly given the new Trans-Pacific Partnership that was due to come into effect this year.

“My understanding is that they undertook business and political engagement, meetings with importers, exporters and businesses over there while they were there.”

Ms Ardern said she and other ministers were not always able to travel all the time, so making use of other senior MPs was useful.

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