MPs close to retiring take trip to China The Dominion Post - 25/03/2014
Less than six months out from their retirement, two National MPs are on a 10-day taxpayer-funded trip to China, costing $15,000 a head.
Members of Parliament's foreign affairs, defence and trade select committees are travelling through southwest and central China this week, before heading to Beijing on a trip funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat).
Promoted as an effort to build links in regions that have never been visited by New Zealand political figures, the trip has been dubbed a "last hoorah" for retiring MPs.
Mfat said last night the "indicative cost" of the trip was $75,000, which it had agreed to cover on the grounds that it would provide a "foreign policy benefit" by broadening parliamentary links with China.
The trip is expected to include return business-class flights and five-star hotels.
Opposition MPs on the trip are all senior members of their parties - Phil Goff, David Shearer and Winston Peters, who are all expected to campaign in the coming election.
But National's members of the delegation, John Hayes and Paul Hutchison, are backbenchers who have indicated they will step down at the end of the current term, with the election to be held on September 20. Read more.