Sunday, 2 August 2009

All expenses paid

Nothing in this world pains me more than admitting that Michael Laws has said something worth listening to. Fortunately, it's not an admission I have to make very often.

In this opinion piece, How MPS rort a nation, Laws alleges a range of abuses of parliamentarians' ability to claim expenses. He particularly challenges what he sees as the perks gained by MPs' spouses.

I think it's important to avoid a knee-jerk reaction on this one. In principle, I don't have a problem with MPs being supported to keep their family lives together. They work long hours, spend a lot of time away from home, and probably get to spend far less time with their loved ones than they would like. (Of course, this also describes the situation of many workers in humbler roles.)

So where does the taxpayer's responsibility to support MPs' private lives begin and end, and what sort of accountability should the taxpayer expect in return?


Moz said...

I think it's the bit where they're in the top 5% of wage earners yet still acting like beneficiaries desperately trying to claw enough money from the government to survive. The claim that we need to pay them very well indeed to match what they'd earn in the private sector is one I can live with, but when we are expected to also pay them the sort of supplementary benefits that people on the DPB need it stops making sense. There's two questions, really: are we paying people a lot because they're in parliament for the money (and if so, are we paying enough? [1]); or are MP's just another type of government beneficiary (in which case where's the oversight?).

They're leading by example and showing everyone else how they should approach government handouts, and in this case showing that the sort of oversight that WINZ applies at the bottom end needs to be vigorously applied to the top end as well.

[1] the private sector experience here is that you can never pay people like that too much, and they're always going to look for the next hit. Hit being "massive pay rise". Governments also experience this... people like Marcos probably felt under-rewarded too.

Anonymous said...

I'm doing a series of videos endorsing a yes vote in the upcoming referendum here are links to some I've already edited.

I was wondering if your organisation would be interested in displaying some of these videos on your web page.


James Barber

Brett Dale said...

No current MP is worse than the former Mayor of Christchurch, Garry Moore.

He was adamant his wife and children would come with him on all the various overseas trips he talk.

he also felt the need to give himself a pay rise to meet the cost of living.