The CORRUPT anti-American Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias traveled first class to 5 destinations in that period, at a cost of about $75,000. She took along her husband, Hugh Fletcher, on two of the all-expense-paid visits.
Jetting judges fly at taxpayer expense
BY JONATHAN MARSHALL – Sunday Star Times
Globe-trotting judges have clocked up almost $350,000 on international taxpayer-funded travel in the past two years – including business class airfares with their spouses.
Locations travelled to on the Kiwi taxpayer – at a cost of $348,949.53 in the 24-month period ending June this year – include London, New York, Florence, Boston, Tunisia, Denver in Colorado, and Halifax in Nova Scotia.
Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias attended five trips in that period, costing $74,490. On two of them, to Melbourne and London, she took along her husband, Hugh Fletcher.
Elias attended a Council of Chief Justices conference in Adelaide, a Supreme and Federal Court judges conference in Canberra, and a Council of Chief Justices meeting in Melbourne. She endured the long haul to Europe for a “judicial academic conference”, a sitting of the House of Lords and the Yale Global Constitutionalism Seminar.
The Sunday Star-Times twice requested an interview with Elias to discuss the judiciary travel bill. Her spokesman, Neil Billington, said: “I am sure you will get a response as soon as she is free to consider your request.”
A judge from the Supreme Court travelled to Vietnam in 2009 at a cost of $8343 to attend a LawAsia conference. Official documents show representatives of the Court of Appeal attended nine events at a cost of $35,419, including visits to Seoul for the International Association of Women Judges Biennial international conference and the West Indies island territory of Turks and Caicos for the Commonwealth Magistrates Judges Association conference.
High Court judges attended $38,007 worth of meetings in mainly Australian cities.
Meanwhile, District Court judges travelled to 16 destinations such as Florence, Tunisia and the Turks and Caicos for events about subjects like “international child abduction”, “therapeutic courts” and “rights for child” at a cost of $136,511. The Maori Land Court spent $32,609 on travel and the Institute of Judicial Studies $23,569.
There was no international jet-setting undertaken by Employment Court judges.
Justice Ministry acting deputy chief executive Christine Stevenson confirmed judges were allowed to travel business class for all journeys that exceeded four hours.
There was controversy last year when it was announced up to 30 Justice Ministry staff were to lose their jobs just two months after around $330,000 was spent on two luxury hotel conferences for Kiwi judges.
A three-day conference for district court judges and partners at Rotorua’s Millenium Hotel in March 2009 cost $220,000. The same week a three-day judges’ conference in Tauranga cost $120,000.