DINNER at Paris Hilton’s favourite LA restaurant, limousines and five-star hotels are among the expenses NSW ministers and their staff are charging to their taxpayer-funded credit cards.
Credit card statements obtained by the State opposition show ministers and their staff have spent almost $1 million on airfares, hotels, food and laundry in the year since the O’Farrell government came to office.
Ministerial international travel in the year to March came to $430,727 with another $477,774 spent on domestic trips. Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and his staffer spent more than $44,000 on overseas trips to the US and Tokyo.
The pair flew to Washington and New York last June before returning to the US in January and adding San Francisco and Silicon Valley to their itinerary.
From the US, Mr Stoner and his staff member travelled to Tokyo and Hong Kong.
The pair charged $1359 to their credit cards, including $97 at A And A Limo and $283 at Mr Chow of LA, in Beverly Hills. Mr Stoner later reimbursed the cost of alcohol to the value of $80.
The upmarket Chinese restaurant is a celebrity haunt, with socialite Paris Hilton and actor Denzel Washington among its regular clientele.
The costs don’t include Mr Stoner’s trip to South Korea and China last week to promote NSW’s trade and investment relationships.
Premier Barry O’Farrell and his chief-of-staff, Peter McConnell, spent just under $25,000 on three separate trips to India, China and New Zealand last July and November.
Treasurer Michael Baird and a staff member spent $19,199 on a four-day trip to Tokyo in October last year, including $17,593 on airfares and $1606 on hotels.
Police Minister Michael Gallacher and his staffer went to New Zealand at a cost of $2560 for an emergency services meeting last July.
Opposition MP Mick Veitch, who obtained the credit card statements under NSW government information public access laws, described the travel bill as excessive.
“While families across NSW struggle with the rising cost of living, Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner is partying at Paris Hilton’s favourite haunts with his taxpayer-funded credit card,” he said.
A spokesman for Mr O’Farrell said ministers were required to travel internationally on occasion to attract business to NSW.
“The NSW government is ensuring that we attract foreign trade and investment to the state,” he said. “This involves building closer ties with our trading partners.”