9 Nov 2009

Contrite Hide to repay cost of girlfriend's trip

2:59 pm on 9 November 2009

ACT Party leader Rodney Hide says he will repay the cost of taking his girlfriend to Britain, the United States and Canada saying he's made a terrific mistake.

At a news conference at Parliament on Sunday afternoon, Mr Hide said he got so caught up after becoming a Minister, that he became 'casual' about spending taxpayer dollars.

He will pay back $11,952 to cover Louise Crome's part of the trip and promised he and his girlfriend would take no more overseas holidays at the taxpayers' expense.

Mr Hide offered an unreserved apology to his colleagues, the public and Prime Minister John Key.

He said he had failed to live up to his own standards and after reflection says he'd made a 'terrific mistake'.

Mr Hide said he can understand why New Zealanders would be appalled by his taking a holiday at their expense, even though it was within the rules.

Last week he repaid $10,000 to cover the cost of a taxpayer-funded holiday to Hawaii for himself and Ms Crome.

Mr Hide is known for his views that MPs' perks are too generous.

The Prime Minister's office says it is an individual MP's decision to use a parliamentary travel allowance.

Apology won't wash - Labour

Labour leader Phil Goff says the apology won't wash with many New Zealanders given Mr Hide was crusading against the things he seems to be taking advantage of.

Former ACT leader Richard Prebble told Morning Report that he was surprised Mr Hide had used the travel allowance but is proud he had now made a fulsome apology.

Mr Prebble says critics like Labour leader Phil Goff might want to rethink.

"Are you telling us that it's ok for your MPs to go overseas on holiday but it's not ok for Rodney Hide?"

PM satisfied London wedding coincidental

Prime Minister John Key says he does not believe Mr Hide arranged a trip to Europe and America in September around attending the wedding of Ms Crome's brother.

The couple attended the London wedding while Mr Hide was on a fact-finding trip related to the setting up of the Auckland super-city.

Mr Key says Mr Hide indicated, when he requested to go on the trip, that he had private arrangements to undertake during the weekend in London.

He says Mr Hide had a tight window of opportunity for travel, and it is fortuitous that the trip coincided with the private engagement.

The Prime Minister says Mr Hide is known for being a hard worker and wrote an extensive report for the Cabinet on the trip.