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The Taxpayers' Union criticised Mojo Mathers for spending money on a trip in order to be interviewed face-to-face. A social media storm followed, with many accusing the lobby group of a low rent tactics in targetting the deaf Green MP. "Good to see the Taxpayers Union go after the big fish first. Take Mojo Mathers and her $500 disability-related trip down!" read a typical tweet.
Below, Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams responds. - Editor
This morning there has been some criticism of my comments in a story on the Herald website about a trip Mojo Mathers took to Masterton from Christchurch apparently just for a short interview on a community radio station.
Despite the accusations on Twitter, let me be very clear about a few points:
The Taxpayers' Union did not seek media attention on this story. There is no associated press release. The Herald called yesterday evening asking for comment, as happens often.
The Taxpayers' Union operates 24 hour media line for comment on taxpayer issues. Yesterday's call came through to me and I was asked whether it was value for money for an MP to fly 800km for a radio interview on a small community station. I said it was not value for money when the interview could have been done via a Skype video chat, as well as the comments that are quoted in the story.
I've made no comment about Ms Mathers disability. In fact, if the travel was necessary I would not criticise the spending. But answering questions posed by the Herald, on matter which as far as I know are completely unrelated to her disability, is legitimate.
Accusations that I (or the Union) sought to go after Mathers are ridiculous. To repeat, we were asked for comment by the Herald who were running the story. The comments would have been the same whoever the MP.
- Accusations that the Taxpayers' Union are partisan are also silly. I am proud that the Union has gone after National MPs and the current government for expenses, wasteful expenditure and corporate welfare. See info.scoop.co.nz/New_Zealand_Taxpayers'_Union
On reflection, I wonder why an MP from a party that prides itself for having a low environmental footprint choose to fly to a radio interview that could have been done on Skype.
Perhaps Ms Mathers had other engagements in Masterton. If so, that was not the information provided to me at the time by the Herald reporter.
Solicitor Jordan Williams is exectutive director of the Taxpayers' Union.