MPs pay should be constant for the term

Kate Chapman at the Dom Post reports:

Prime Minister John Key urged restraint over the setting of politicians’ pay this year but most MPs seem resigned to the boost in their salaries which, they are quick to point out, was decided independently.

Mr Key was consulted by the Remuneration Authority – the independent body that sets politicians’ pay – and said given the circumstances restraint should be shown.

“He argued there should be a nil increase for MPs, or if there was any increase, it should be in the band of other public-sector pay settlements,” a spokesman for Mr Key said.

The authority decided on a 1.4 per cent rise backdated to July and a one-off payment of $2000 to cover the decreased use of MPs’ travel subsidy. The rise boosts Mr Key’s salary to $400,500 and a backbencher’s to $134,800.

Every year the MPs go through a self-flaggelation when the Remuneration Authority does their annual pay adjustment for MPs. It is either too much, or it is at the wrong time, or it is backdated etc etc.

This will always be the case, as MPs getting pay rises during  term of Parliament never will be popular.

The easy way to solve this, is what I have long advocated – set the salary and associated terms around three months before each election, for the next term of Parliament.

So MPs would get elected to Parliament for a term, on a known salary which remains constant during that term.

This might not have been possible in the days of high inflation, but one could do it easily and the adjustment from term to term would still be a fairly modest single digit percentage.

You don’t even need to change the law to do this. The Remuneration Authority Act says that the maximum gap between adjustments is three years, so it would just take the leadership in Parliament to ask the Authority to move to setting as constant for each term of Parliament.

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