MPs travel perks

November 1st, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

It was reported last week that has decided not to include details of how much each MP has used of their “travel” perk, as it is discouraging MPs from using it – which is unfair as the value of the perk is deducted from their remuneration package in setting their salary.

Now Lockwood has identified the problem correctly, but in this rare instance I disagree with his solution.

It is unfair to be deducting the value of the perk from the salary, and to be having witch hunts against those who use it. But the solution is to abolish the travel perk and increase the salary – not to try and keep the details secret.

Lockwood and the PM have opened up the books greatly, and doing so is a one way street effectively. Even if the Parliamentary Service only now publish the total amount of travel perks used, the media will question each individual MP about whether they have used it, and so the end result will be the same.

The Herald quotes saying much the same:

“Why don’t you just pay the MPs, don’t allow the rebate and cover their legitimate expenses?”

While the Green Party is looking at releasing their rebate details anyway, Hide could not speak on behalf of all his MPs on whether they would follow suit.

“I don’t think the speaker can put the genie back into the bottle, because people quite naturally expect transparency and accountability and it would be impossible to explain, in this day and age, that this rebate is being paid out of an MP’s salary, even though it is.”

I agree with Rodney that this is what should happen. There has been an argument that the travel perk should stay, because it is the only way to recognise more experienced MPs service. But I would say that if we wish to do that, then do it directly through salaries. There is no reason the Remuneration Authority can’t be asked to set a slightly higher salary for MPs who have served a certain number of years. some may argue against this also – my point is one should set the salary to cover all remuneration, and then just have legitimate expenses claimed.

Some MPs do use their travel perk for a mixture of work and play – such as travelling to meet colleagues in other countries. But that can be funded from the Leader’s Budget. If the argument is their budgets are not big enough to cover that, then lets debate that, rather than keep the travel perk which will never be accepted by the public – inevitably it will go the same way as the perk for ex MPs.

14 Responses to “MPs travel perks”

  1. backster (2,507 comments) says:

    It seems so messy that the man who recomends increases in MPs salaries should be dispensed with. I am certain I have heard him state that in setting increases he takes no account of perks. I have also heard it stated that the travel perks arose after an influential group of Socialist MPs were junketing in Australia. Their Australian counterparts were boasting about their interstate perks so our troughers went one better and made theirs international.

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  2. BeaB (2,512 comments) says:

    A good article. This is how it should be.

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  3. Guildford (7 comments) says:

    What are the arguments advanced in favour of increasing remuneration for longer serving MPs anyway? Their job is as representatives of the people – unlike most jobs, it’s not clear how they “get better” in their jobs to warrant additional pay. If anything, an MP who is hanging on for financial reasons is likely to make less of a contribution and have more of an incentive to tow the party line, to the detriment of voters.

    It’s a long way from the traditional argument for MPs’ pay, to ensure that working people without savings could serve.

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  4. La Grand Fromage (145 comments) says:

    I would be happy for MP’s pay and perks to increase dramatically but only if everyone of voting age was allowed once a year to kick the MP of their choosing as hard in the nuts as they liked.

    It would certainly make them think twice about behaving like nobs and it would also offer alternative career choices for Mallard and Carter who from the lion share of the pounding that their nads took would be able to perform with the Vienna boys choir

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  5. Gwilly (195 comments) says:

    The usual sensible suggestions from Hide.

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  6. Viking2 (14,364 comments) says:

    Wouldn’t hurt any of them to have it taken away in this day and age. How many others have had wage cuts, job cuts etc and these people seem to think that they should be immune.
    Rather than beat about the bush just remove the unwarranted perk immediately. Allow them to join the rest of the hoi poloi cause that’s where most of them both came from should go back to and really do belong. Cutting their salries by this token amount would be a good sign, to which we could no doubt slowly add more cuts in this money and tax constrained time.

    That’s what is being applied to everyone else.

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  7. GPT1 (2,155 comments) says:

    Wasn’t the Speaker’s argument that an increase would leave those who had already, in effect, ‘paid for’ the travel allowances through unpaid salary unfairly disadvantaged? This would particularly apply to ex MPs I guess. Surely it could be worked out so that it was cash rather than travel from now on though.

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  8. big bruv (15,556 comments) says:

    What a lot of rubbish, every single one of our MP’s will tell you that they enter Parliament to “serve” the people, in most cases I do not doubt what they say, however, it does not take them long to develop a bad case of “troughitis” and massively inflated sense of self importance.

    They are well paid for the work they do, many of them could never hope to earn the same amount in the private sector.

    Every single cent they spend should be open to public scrutiny.

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  9. Crumble (63 comments) says:

    On this very rare occasion (once in a blue moon) I agree with DPF on this. The travel allowance and the other stuff were put in place so MP’s didn’t have to get a pay rise that looks bad in the public’s eye.

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  10. MT_Tinman (4,389 comments) says:

    Had the slime, backed up by the slavering dickheads of the left (mainly) been able to publicise the use of legitimate travel benefits evenly and honestly this would never have arisen.

    Note the crap about Hide’s travel while giving Anderton a free pass at the same time for the same action.

    I’m with Lockwood on this but agree with Hide, if it’s in the job description just pay it out as part of the salary.

    DPF, the granting of extra salary based solely on time served is not bloody on!

    If the entitlement is paid out in the salary package longer serving MPs automatically get more over time.

    BB, I don’t think they’re overpaid – just under-qualified.

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  11. Chuck Bird (6,569 comments) says:

    I would be interested what it cost for Key to go in an Air Force 757 compared to a commercial flight and if the Air Force 757 is necessary.

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  12. lastmanstanding (1,724 comments) says:

    Ever since FBT was introduced by the Nats in the mid 90s the private sector has been cutting out this stuff and paying cash. Company cars are a thing of the past in most senior roles as are membership of the golf club Rotary etc etc.

    Time for this lot to do the same.

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  13. grumpyoldhori (2,307 comments) says:

    To serve the people LOL, listening to all MPs one would get the idea they are the second coming of Sir Ed.
    When he stated in the sixties that MPs were a self serving bunch never a truer word spoken.

    And nothing has bloody changed in fifty bloody years.
    Asking MPs after the holiday break if they spent tax payers money on their holiday travel would be interesting, just watch the buggers dodging the answer as they whine how they are entitled.

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  14. CharlieBrown (1,768 comments) says:

    There should be no perks for mps or any public servants – people should be doing those jobs for the greater good. It really grinds my gears seeing career politicians like Helen Clark do well of the public teet… especially considering the damage their delusional policies do to the real world. So the idea that long serving mps deserve perks is completely abhorent to me and I would guess, alot of other people.

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