The practice of downgrading airline tickets to take another passenger along – as used by a trio of MPs on a trip to Europe – is off the table for public servants.
Three MPs travelling with Parliament Speaker David Carter’s delegation in Europe are believed to have traded their single business class flight tickets for two economy class tickets, allowing them to take spouses along on the trip.
So here is the circular argument:
Hey, you’re spending too much of our tax money!
– yes, nearly $100,000 of the total $138,000 cost is for business fares
– no, we need to be fresh when we get off the plane. this is justified in this case
But you allowed the MPs to travel economy and spread the cost so they could take their wife, husband, spouse, significant other or favourite farm animal. So now they won’t arrive fresh?
The Taxpayers’ Union has said it raises questions over whether the trip is work or a junket.
The State Services Commission (SSC) says the practice would not be acceptable in the public service.
Sandi Beatie, the deputy commissioner, said the commission’s expectation was that when public servants had to travel, only their individual travel should be covered. The only exclusion was that the cost of relocating family was covered if a public servant was moving.
“Any ‘downgrading’ of flights in the manner you mention by public servants would not be appropriate. SSC has no record of ‘downgrading flights’ being considered acceptable or any directive on the issue,” Beatie said.
The commission’s standards on integrity and conduct stated that officials “use our organisation’s resources carefully and only for intended purposes”.
By definition, if an MP can travel to do business on economy fares, then we should send them with economy fares.
Or, they have to admit that it’s really just a joyride at the taxpayer’s expense.
One, or the other. Pick.
– Hamish Rutherford, Stuff