MP expenses: Another one bites the dust

The NZ Herald haven’t got their numbers right.  They report that Pansy Wong is the third Minister in John Key’s Government to resign.  She’s actually the fourth – they appear to have forgotten Heather Roy who resigned as Minister of Consumer Affairs and Associate Defence and Education Minister after being replaced as ACT Deputy Leader amid allegations of being bullied by Rodney Hide. 

But two of the resignations, Wong’s and Phil Heatley’s, directly related to misuse of Parliamentary expenses. Another resigned Minister, Richard Worth, had been warned about abuse of travel expenses for private business purposes before a further unidentified indiscretion which secured his resignation. 

Metiria Turei went into bat on this issue today:

This is just another example of the current system not working. Paying MPs by way of international travel subsidy creates confusion and perverse incentives,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

The public deserve a system that is clear, simple, and fair. An independent overhaul of the system is required to ensure that New Zealand politics are kept honest and transparent.

John Key needs to establish an independent body to develop a more transparent system that clearly separates personal expenses from remuneration and legitimate work expenses. He must commit to fixing this broken system.

An independent system for determining MP allowances and remuneration is the only way to restore public confidence.

Well said, Metiria! 

In addition to the Ministerial resignations, there are the scandals around Rodney Hide’s, Chris Carter’s and Roger Douglas’ use of travel entitlements (all of which were found to be legally legitimate but were publicly perceived as being far from a good look).

Then there was Bill English’s accommodation allowance, which was found by the Auditor-General to have been unlawfully claimed, but English not culpable for that because he had received official advice that it was legitimate.

The current system encourages rorting by maximising so-called “entitlements”.  As Metiria says, it is time for an independent review.

10 Comments Posted

  1. Any person steeped in tne Confucian tradition (and there are a few billions out there) will be astonised that someone acting with total Confucian virtue could lose their job for so doing.
    The family is the key to the Confucian philosophy. A husband and wife who do business together are the most highly regarded.
    Especially compared to so many western men use business trips as an excuse to spend their leisure time in brothels etc.

    I know that that when I was putting deals together in Confucian societies the fact that my wife joined me opened the door to the highers ranking families and to private dinners in their homes.
    I honoured the family so the Confucians honoured me – and of course my wife, who was doing her business alongside the business I was doing for the NZ government.

    We are wanting to be part of the Pacific rim economy. We had better start learning how it works rather than let the “business is bad” mindset of the left drive us into a policy of failure even while declaring we are multicultural. If we want to be multicultural, learn from the cultures that work – not from the demonstrable failures.

    I was doing my negotiations during the early seventies. And the government contributed nothing to my wife’s travel costs.
    But later when I was working in the same field working with client companies they soon learned to send the wives of their negotiators at least once during the process – an preferably quite early. The whole point of building relationships is to do business to mutual advantage. The idea is that even if one project falls over the ongoing solid relationship will hopefully lead to a further business opportunity.
    I believe we have much to learn from this approach and indeed have just recommended a new group start off with a Letter of Intent rather than a Heads of Agreement.

  2. I actually agree that we should increase the pay of MPs and get rid of the perks. As has been noted by many others, the travel perk was instituted in lieu of a pay increase back in the 1970s and I don’t think that it would hurt the taxpayer to have an additional pay increase in exchange for getting rid of the travel perk.

    Also, I don’t think that CEOs are grossly overpaid – if you look at some of the stuff they could be stung with under the Companies Act (that includes unlimited liability if found guilty of reckless trading), then you can see that paying them less would simply result in a dearth of CEOs.

  3. Tod; I very much sympathise with your concerns, it is a difficult one just because someone is on the job 14 hours a day doesn’t necessarily mean they are actually working.

    I think that if parliament was run strictly 9 to 5 with the usual breaks it would be more efficient; politicians wouldn’t be reading the wrong bills.

    Todd in the last line I think you spelt Patsy’s name WRONG !!!!!

  4. I think that might be assuming too much there toad. One thing I think we both agree on though is that expenditure needs to be an open book. In fact I think all financial undertakings need to be made transparent, then we will see how far the rot goes.

    If we paid some MP’s what they are worth to the country like lets say Roger Douglas, I would think his pay-cheque would be a big fat zero. I wonder what Rodney Hide’s pay would be set at? They would probably end up owing money to the taxpayer.

    Comparatively some of the Green MP’s undertake Herculean efforts and do actually write their own letters; your argument holds water there. In that respect paying MP’s what they are worth is a good idea. Still, it would average out as a saving to the taxpayer because most MP’s are worthless fat lazy good for nothing A holes and are only there to get a free lunch and help their rich business mates rip us all off. Their sense of entitlement makes me sick!

    Perhaps incentives to tackling some of the countries problems would be a good idea as well. Let’s say a bonus for reducing violent crime and imprisonment rates for the Corrections Minister, a bonus for the Minister of Education for raising kids IQ and lowering classroom numbers and a bonus for the Minister of Transport for lowering the road toll and stopping overweight trucks wrecking our roads. Maybe a huge bonus for getting rid of poverty related third world diseases that we have in New Zealand for the Health Minister. Most people only get paid if their work is successful.

    Maybe we should stop paying MP’s entirely until they actually do their jobs properly. They certainly shouldn’t get any pay rise when everybody else is doing it hard. At the moment, instead of making this country great again, politicians are being rewarded for reducing funding to essential services. This invariably has a negative impact on the people. At least the politicians have more taxpayer money to invest overseas though eh!

    Presently MP’s get systematic pay increases even though they’ve made our country bankrupt. “Working” in a comfortable office with every need pandered to and free food and alcohol with a secretary to do all your work isn’t exactly my idea of hard graft. Swanning off overseas on private business trips all paid for by our tax dollar isn’t exactly working for your crust is it? Most of our Politicians haven’t done an honest days work in their lives. They are so out of touch with the working class it isn’t funny. To even contemplate rewarding MP’s further, for gutting this country is preposterous.

    I bet old Pansy Wong will keep getting her nice big pay-cheque… What a crock!

  5. @Todd 4:57 PM

    Hang on a minute, MPs are actually paid bugger all for their duties – assuming the actually perform them.

    A competent and hardworking MP will turns up at work at 8.00am and is there to at least 10:00pm when Parliament is sitting. They also work 6 or 7 days a week. I actually think they should be paid more for what they do, but there should be checks and balances – like every party should be required to have a membership vote on their list order, so those that have failed to perform adequately are subject to demotion by the Party membership.

    I would actually favour a salary increase for MPs, but with the proviso that all the perks that they can use for personal purposes (eg those Pansy Wong abused) are abolished.

    Pay them what they are worth, make them publicly accountable for their work expenditure, and stop them using public money for private purposes.

    How about that?

  6. Come now Richard, MPs are paid too much. You’re comparing their wages to top CEO’s who get paid exorbitant amounts. Everybody else has had to take cuts and pay more for general services, (which in some cases used to be free) because of the Politicians mistakes like loosing millions of taxpayer dosh in insecure investments. Where is the outcry about all that wasted money? They then keep putting their wages up while getting every sort of perk imaginable. They have free mansions, free travel and free lunches while the poor scrounge around in the dirt hoping not to get evicted while trying to decide to pay the bills or eat that week. Kids still go to school without shoes or a lunch in this country while the fat dogs wallow in our hard earned money extorted from us with GST and other taxes that favour the rich. Not to mention the insider business-trading going on that lines the pockets of politicians and their rich business mates. Generally they don’t even write their own letters and in my opinion are grossly overpaid. They’re corrupt pigs with their snouts in the trough crapping on the rest of us. Although likening some politicians to pigs etc is unfair on animals.

  7. No Drakula, MPs are not paid enough, as every remuneration survey shows. the problem is that they ‘hide’ some of that remuneration in the form of perks. Where I agree with you is that it should all be right there in their salaries, with no perks that the public cannot see. If they deserve the pay as the remuneration surveys show, than pay it to them direct and don’t pay for any international travel – let them do it.


    “The public deserve a system that is clear simple and fair”.
    Don’t give them any perks at all; why doesn’t it all just come out of their saleries? They get paid enough; don’t they?

    And if the likes of Pansy Wrong doesn’t like it she can go and get another job.

  9. Strange how Wong bit the dust pretty early on… I bet there is more dirt to dig there. Unfortunately Dishonesty has pervaded many areas of the public sector and seems to be very prevalent in politics and the justice system. The rot on the surface is only the beginning. An independent inquiry does need to dig a bit deeper. Accountability measures to keep our politicians honest are a good idea, but really we need some way of keeping dishonest people out of places of power. I know that’s easier said than done but we will never prosper as a country unless we have honest rulers. Clearly the current lot are as dishonest as they come.

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