The former MPs travel perk

The Herald reports:

Former MPs who were in Parliament before 1999 are able to claim an international travel discount for them and their spouse each year, paid for by taxpayers.

The maximum rebate is recalculated every year by Parliamentary Service, whose staff look up a current airfare to base it upon.

Since the 1970s that airfare has been specified as an Air New Zealand business class return fare from Auckland to London.

But that changed to the lowest-cost business airfare available after the new Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Act 2013.

Omitting the Air NZ specification was a mistake, the Government said, and this week’s amendment will fix that.

Because Air NZ is often not the cheapest option, legal blogger Graeme Edgeler has estimated that the change could have increased the maximum rebate from $11,000 to about $20,000 a year.

However, figures provided by Parliamentary Service show that for 2014/15 – the first year an airline’s fare other than Air NZ was used – the cap was $12,414.

In the previous financial year – when Air NZ had to be used as the basis for calculation – the cap was similar at $11,850.

So it is far from clear that going back to Air NZ as a basis would increase the value. In fact the cap was lower when using Air NZ.  But then why not stick with the (new) status quo?

Important to note that the perk has been abolished for MPs who entered Parliament after 1999. Of the 121 current MPs, only 15 will get the perk.

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