The Government Administration Committee has reported back the Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Bill which was to transfer some expense decisions away from the Speaker to the independent remuneration Authority, which is a good thing.
The Herald reports the major changes:
A committee of MPs has recommended tougher financial penalties for themselves and their colleagues when they are away from Parliament without leave.
But MPs on the Government Administration Committee say decisions about MPs’ travel perks should remain with Parliament’s Speaker while the Remuneration Authority should decide on the level of their accommodation allowances.
The Government’s Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Bill – drafted in response to the regular public anger over MPs’ remuneration – lifted the penalty for MPs absent without leave for more than nine days each year to about $270 a day from the current $10.
However, the committee has recommended that the penalty kicks in after just three days and is effectively increased by setting it at 0.2 per cent of the individual MP’s gross salary.
That works out to $289 a day for a backbench MP, $525 a day for Crown Ministers and the leader of the Opposition and $838 a day for the Prime Minister.
That is much better.
While the Prime Minister, other ministers and MPs are frequently away from Parliament on sitting days, they generally have a leave of absence. New rules setting out the criteria under which MPs are deemed to be absent without leave will be formulated by parties in consultation with the Speaker.
Hone may not end up getting paid much! He’s almost never there.
I’m disappointed however that the committee did not take up (or even mention) my proposal that MPs remuneration should only be reviewed every three years, with any changes to take place after an election. This would have avoided the public backlash around MPs getting pay rises, as no MP would get a pay rise during their term of Parliament. So when they get a backlash at the next pay increase, well they’ll have no one but themselves to blame.