MPs expenses

The full list for MPs is here and Ministers here. First of all let’s look at overall expenses and Labour have helpfully done a combined ranked list on their blog.

Ministers take up the top ten places ranging from Foreign Minister McCully at $353,000 to Justice Minister Power on $125,000. This is for first six months of this year.

The top ranked non Minister is Phil Goff on $124,000. I actually defended him on Radio NZ. The Opposition Leader gets a huge number of invites – second only to the PM probably. I’ve worked for three of them, and know. And part of their job is to get around the country and meet people and groups. You don’t want a potential PM who spends all their time in .

The next non Minister is Chris Carter on $82,000. He is Shadow Foreign Minister so again no surprise.

Maurice Williamson has the least expenses as a Minister at $58,000. They do not reveal what Richard Worth’s expenses were before he resigned.

The least expensive MP was Katrina Shanks on $10,000. Katrina is Wellington based.

I would caution against assuming that the cheaper the MP the better. Often it will be that an MP with high domestic travel expenses is very hard working and attends a huge number of meetings and events. While if you sit in the Beehive bar every night, you will have very few travel expenses.

Publishing the expenses is a good thing though, as it does provide an incentive for an MP to consider if a trip is value for money. In other words if it costs $1,000 to attend a meeting, is it worth it?

I’ve yet to meet any regular traveller who actually enjoys it. I doubt any MP really enjoys spendings hours taxing to airports, going through security scanners and getting crammed onto planes. I fly a few times a month and I would do anything to avoid it, if it were not for the fact I can’t get to Auckland by teleportation.

Most of the levels of expenses are around what I would expect. However I would say some List MPs have expenses higher than what I would expect, and I’ll be interested to see their spending levels in future reports.

I have blogged previously on the Wellington accom allowance. This is capped at $24,000 a year so the maximum for six months should be $12,000. Kevin Hague has $12,000 as did Phil Twyford and Melissa Lee. Lockwood Smith is at $12,000 also which puzzles me because he stays in the Speaker’s Flat. Maybe they charge that out at $24,000 a year to record the value of it?

Congrats to the Speaker and PM for releasing the information, and all the parties for agreeing to it.

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