Groom’s 4km taxi ride: $152

STATE Growth Minister Matthew Groom has come under fire for spending $152 on a four-kilometre luxury taxi ride.

Matthew Groom

Matthew Groom

Opposition Leader Bryan Green unleashed a Right to Information document in question time during State Parliament yesterday that   revealed the taxi was ordered to take Mr Groom on an eight-kilometre return journey.

The return leg of the trip was cancelled at the last minute.

The order was made in April with luxury vehicle company Chauffeured Cars and Coaches to take the minister from Sandy Bay in Hobart to the Royal Botanical Gardens, at a non-refundable charge of $70 each way, plus tax.

The criticism comes after Health Minister Michael Ferguson this week paid back the cost of a $776 luxury taxi ride used four months ago for return travel from Launceston to Hobart for a press conference.

The government announced earlier this year that it would get rid of three cars and three drivers from the ministerial  fleet by moving to a pool system in a bid to save about $500,000 a year.

The policy was heavily criticised by unions, and ministers defended the reduction by saying they would be able to drive themselves if drivers were unavailable.

Mr Green said yesterday the policy was ‘‘deeply flawed’’ and would continue to see luxury taxis being used by ministers when drivers weren’t available.

‘‘Michael Ferguson has set a precedent by belatedly repaying his four-month-old $776 taxi fare, and Matthew Groom should now do the same,’’ Mr Green said.

A spokesman for Mr  Groom confirmed that  the minister cancelled the return trip.

‘‘It’s bizarre for Bryan Green to complain about a $70 trip when we have already saved $27,000 in ministerial travel costs and our changes to ministerial travel services are on track to save $2 million over the next four years,’’ the spokesman said.

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