MP remuneration bill passes first reading, despite Greens digging heels in

The bill passed by an overwhelming 106 to 14 under urgency yesterday night with every Green Party MP digging in their heels and voting No.

The bill that will change the way MPs' salary increases are determined has passed its first reading, despite Green MPs' forlorn protest.   

The bill passed by an overwhelming 106 to 14, under urgency yesterday night with every Green Party MP digging in their heels and voting No.

National’s Workplace Minister Michael Woodhouse said on Monday that the Remuneration Authority had recently awarded MPs a 3.56% increase to their salaries.

This figure is worlds away from New Zealand’s current 0.8% level of inflation.

In late February, the Remuneration Authority decided to increase MPs' pay, despite protests from the public and by some ministers – including Prime Minister John Key.  

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the Greens want “real constraints” on MPs’ pay, not hurried superficial changes that continue large annual pay rises for MPs.

“We oppose this latest change, because we are not convinced that it provides a fairer way to set MPs’ pay.

“What’s needed is a completely different approach, such as pegging MPs’ pay to movements in the nominal median income.”

Ms Turei says that this Greens’ policy would have resulted in a total base salary increase of just $4276 since 2007/2008, rather than the $29,800 rise under the current system across the same period.

In an unlikely alliance, the Taxpayers Union have supported the Greens’ on this issue.

Earlier this week, the lobby group’s spokesman Ben Craven said he welcomes the Greens’ opposition to the proposal to increase travel entitlements for MPs, elected before 1999.

Yesterday, Mr Craven said political parties voting under urgency for a “half-baked policy” on MPs’ remuneration, confirms all the negative stereotypes taxpayers hold about their elected representatives.

Jwalls@nbr.co.nz

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