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Commuting Public Servants Cost $5.3 Million A Year

Commuting Public Servants Cost $5.3 Million A Year

Public servants commuting to Wellington to work are costing the taxpayer almost $5.3 million a year in travel and accommodation costs, according to United New Zealand leader, Hon Peter Dunne.

Mr Dunne has released the results (see attached sheet) of a survey of all Government Departments he has carried out through Written Parliamentary Questions.

The survey shows that 82 public servants are commuting on a weekly basis to work in Wellington at annualised cost of $5,228,000.

"I am absolutely staggered at the result, and I am sure the public will be too," he says.

"I accept that there will be times when people have to commute to Wellington as part of their job, but I had no idea it was a way of life for so many public servants, and that the taxpayer was picking up the tab to such an extent."

"It is outrageous, and makes a complete mockery of the Government's claims to be introducing new standards of behaviour in the public sector."

"The culture of extravagance Labour was so critical of while in Opposition is continuing unabated now it is in Government, which makes the whole situation that much more unacceptable." Mr Dunne says.

Mr Dunne says that the $5.3 million is put into its proper perspective by the fact that it is equivalent to New Zealand superannuation for nearly 400 single superannuitants; or, the cost of over 4,300 more cataract operations; or, the cost of doubling its just announced $4 million scholarship programme to attract new teachers; or, could go a long way towards ensuring there were enough nurses in our hospitals.

"Any of these alternatives is a higher priority than paying public servants to commute to work in Wellington," he says.

Mr Dunne is calling on the Government to toughen up the rules for meeting the costs of public servants that choose to commute to Wellington, rather than live here.

ENDS

UNITED NEW ZEALAND SURVEY OF GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTAL STAFF PAID TO COMMUTE TO WELLINGTON TO WORK

DEPARTMENT STAFF NUMBERS ESTIMATED ANNUAL COST

Agriculture 1 $40,000 Child & Family 1 $24,300 Corrections 7 $259,536 Courts 2 $75,600 WINZ 6 $241,488 Education 2 $46,354 Inland Revenue 30 * $3,946,368 * Customs 1 $57,600 Fisheries 1 $15,400 Defence Force 19 ** $32,952 Land Information 10 $411,000 Labour 2 *** $78,133

TOTAL 82 $5,228,731

NOTES

* The number of staff commuting is for one month only and the cost figures are annualised on the assumption of a similar number of staff over a 48 week period

** Expenses are paid in respect of only 12 staff members

*** A temporary arrangement due to end soon

In most cases, cost details have been provided on a weekly basis, so these have been annualised on the basis of 48 weeks per year.

As at 10 July 2000 Source: Answers to Written Parliamentary Questions

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