MPs pay rise tomorrow

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

MPs are in line for a Christmas bonus of several thousand dollars.

The Remuneration Authority confirmed today it expected to issue its annual review of MP salaries on Thursday – backdated to July 1, meaning they are in line for backpay as well.

Based on a pay rise in the order of 1.5 per cent, that could be $6000 plus for Prime Minister John Key, while a back bencher will get an extra $2000-plus a year.

But MPs could also be in line for an adjustment worth a couple of thousand dollars more, based on changes to their international travel discount which was estimated to have left them about $9000 a year worse off.

The Remuneration Authority has already adjusted their pay by $5000 and $2000 over the last two pay rounds and is likely to top up pay packets further in its determination on Thursday.

Remuneration Authority chief executive John Errington said he could not discuss details till the determination was gazetted.

But when asked if the payrise was likely to be in the order of last year’s rise of 1.5 per cent he confirmed that was likely.

The annual pay rise is always controversial and likely to attract stiff criticism again this year after  pre-Christmas news that motorists will be stung by a hike in petrol taxes by 9c a litre over the next three years.

I have advocated for many years a win-win solution to this issue. Rather than have annual pay adjustments, the law should require the Remuneration Authority to set salaries and allowances for MPs for an entire term of Parliament, every three years  before the election. This means that no MP gets a payrise during their term, and people stand for Parliament knowing exactly how much the salary will be for that Parliament. It doesn’t mean MPs get paid less overall, but it does mean you avoid this annual masochistic exercise. Rather than say an annual 1.5% increase, you may just have the salary for one term of Parliament set 4.5% higher than the previous term.

The Govt Admin Select Committee has yet to report back on a bill, which may make that change. Hopefully the inevitable outcry tomorrow will convince MPs of the merits of making a change.

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