The Speaker put up a compelling defence for MPs expenses on Q & A this morning.
I can see both sides of this argument (see, the economic liberal in me didn’t last long). I know from some of my friends who’ve worked in the Beehive and Parliament that the hours are horrendous, and that’s just for the staffers. At least most of the staffers get to go home and cuddle up to their loved ones (albeit late at night). The politicians on the other hand don’t just have a job, they have a lifestyle.
I sometimes compare it to being a Police Officer (yeah, yeah, without the danger to life). Even when a cop is off duty they can still get called back to work immediately, especially if they are AOS. Politicians have a similar lifestyle job. They are nearly always available at the end of a phone, are expected to spend large amounts of time away from family, and the public expectation is that they (and to some degree their families) are public property.
So, may be there is an argument for higher salaries or bulk funding? Personally, I just don’t think the public could or would stomach it. At least at the moment MPs and Ministers’ expenses are paid out on a ‘use’ basis. That means that if they’re not out and about doing their job then they can’t just pocket the money.
One aspect of this expenses debate that perplexes me is that two of the higher profile naysayers aren’t exactly squeaky clean themselves.
Let’s start with Paul Holmes. In his interview with the Speaker today he said: