The case for and against Rodney Hide over using the international travel subsidy for long serving MPs to have his girlfriend accompany him.
The case for the defence:
- He has already paid for the perk through a lower salary. The Remuneration Authority deducts 100% of the average value of the international travel perk (around $6,900 per MP) from their salary. The Authority also deducts around $4,000 from MPs salary to cover the 45% of spouses domestic travel deemed of personal benefit.
- Up until 2009, it was almost automatic that Ministers would have their partners travel with them. This has only become an issue because John Key has changed the rules.
- It is not hypocritical to oppose something but take benefit from it. Many people think the pension should be means tested, but they don’t turn it down when the reach 65 all the same.
- Most men, if they had a girlfriend like Louise, wouldn’t leave her at home alone while they were overseas in case she changes her mind while you are gone 🙂
- Rodney, like most Ministers, works 70+ hour weeks, and gets very little family time as it is. This is why traditionally Ministers get to have partners travel with them, and we should not begrudge it
- Two weeks is a long time to go without sex 🙂
- One overseas trip a year, with a partner, for a Minister is hardly troughing
- The trip was approved by the PM, and within the rules.
The case for the prosecution:
- Any other year it would not be such an issue, but this was done during a recession when Ministers are campaigning for spending restraint
- The PM had made it clear he did not think the taxpayer should generally fund partners on overseas trips. It didn’t matter that he approved the trip – that was because he can’t set policy for how MPs use their parliamentary entitlement.
- You used to be known as the perk buster – that means yes you do have to be a martyr.
- The public hate hearing “It was approved and within the rules” when MPs write the rules.
- After the fuss over Roger Douglas, one should have known that the ACT Party Leader, of all people, needed to be like Caesar’s Wife – beyond suspicion.
- No one is saying your partner shouldn’t travel with you – it is a matter of who pays for it.
I think I have covered all the major arguments for and against. I would point out that most of the media have not really mentioned the aspect about the average cost of the international travel perk being deducted from an MPs salary.
There was some suggestion on other blogs, and linked here, that the amount of travel credited to partners may be wrong. I don’t think the Herald did have it wrong, and I’ll explain.
If an MP is a Minister, then Ministerial Services basically pays all his or her travel expenses as an MP. They don’t try and work out are you travelling as a Minister or an MP, because that would be a nightmare administratively.
But Ministers also do show travel expenses from Parliamentary Service. That is not the cost of their parliamentary travel, but generally the costs of their family’s travel and/or any use of the subsidy for long serving MPs on private travel.