MPs to lose control of their perks

The Government has accepted a Law Commission report recommending that MPs' allowances and entitlements should be set by an independent authority.

When legislation is passed MPs will lose control of their perks, something they have fought against for decades.

The report, released today, made a strong case for all entitlements and allowances to be set by the Remuneration Authority, the independent body which sets MPs' salaries.

Prime Minister John Key said it was important that the regime for setting ministers' and MPs' expenses had public confidence.

"Accordingly, it is the Government's intention to accept the broad thrust of the recommendation to move decision-making regarding remaining MP and ministerial expenses to an enhanced Remuneration Authority," he said.

"Cabinet will consider the timing of the new legislation early in the new year, but it is my intention that it will be passed before the end of 2011."

The report said the system couldn't be fixed by tinkering with it.

"We just can't go on like this," former Law Commission president Sir Geoffrey Palmer told NZPA.

"MPs are put under pressure by the system itself, it isn't fair to them and it isn't fair to the public.

"They are often under suspicion...because they are involved in setting the amounts themselves."

The report said fundamental change was needed and it recommended replacing the Civil List Act, which authorises payments to MPs, with new legislation which has been written as a draft bill.

It recommended the Remuneration Authority should have two specialist members added to it, one an experienced former MP.

"I'm really trying to help the system, not hurt it," said Sir Geoffrey, who held office while the report was prepared.

"It's got to be clear, it's got to be transparent, and it's got to be set by a third party."

He believed the most important point that should be considered was the public's trust in the quality of New Zealand's democracy.

"If the elected representatives in our central democratic institution don't have public respect, then our whole system becomes much more fragile," he said.

The commission consulted all the parties in Parliament while it was working on the report.

It said Parliament's Speaker, Lockwood Smith, had "real reservations" about an independent body setting MPs' entitlements.

"He is particularly concerned that an independent body would not understand the needs of Parliament," it said.

"His strong preference would be to continue to use the mechanism of the Speaker's Directions which are flexible, easy to amend and draw on the experience of the Speaker."

Sir Geoffrey said the report carefully reflected Dr Smith's view "but we don't agree with it".

The commission also said the Parliamentary Service, which makes payments to MPs, should be opened to the Official Information Act (OIA).

This has been previously rejected as well, although parties have started voluntarily issuing details of their MPs' expenses.

"While the move to greater transparency is commendable, and provides more information about the total spending of MPs, in some respects the disclosure still lacks transparency," it said.

"The figures do not distinguish between domestic and international flights, or separately identify travel paid for an MP's spouse or partner and dependant children...clearly, a voluntary regime is not the same as a statutory requirement."

It did not include that requirement in its draft bill, saying it would issue a separate report on the OIA next year.

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8 Comments & Questions

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What ?
The higher salaries and perk commission.
If you dont give us an increase you dont get the review job next year.
Give us a break
There perks and salaries should go down or be frozen for a couple of years
Fat chance

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Wolves in control of the hen house
What a joke

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Just saw a piggy fly past my window

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So, in summation:

1) This group of people are either so incompetent, or so dishonest, or, a mixture of the two, that they can't even be relied upon to manage a simple system of reimbursements, such as in normal circumstances could be instituted at any high school..

2) This same group of individuals are responsible for a government spend that makes up almost half the (unproductive) spending in our entire economy.

3) This same group have carte blanche power to take my earnings from me, to pay for this government spend, and for their perks, sorry, reimbursements.

Well, I guess as is the looters philosophy that underlies our age holds, as stated by Kim Jong Hickey on his own site just today, people create wealth. In the end it needs to be distributed'; and it's fitting, therefore, that this is the group to do it.

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All those avaricious MPs can go and get phucked!!

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Well ,not before time!
it has been a shameful performance by our employees and particularly by the Speaker.They have had to be dragged kicking and screaming to this point.They should be trying to suppress their avaricious instincts and get their sticky little paws out of the trough.
For goodness sake, our mps are supposed to be setting society's standards.And these are the people who make our laws!
With this performance what chance does NZ have to become an ethical society?

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We've just had enough of those filthy bloodsucking parasitic vermin leeching on the taxpayer!!!!

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Very nice legislation passed by the house. But impact is yet to be seen. Hope it will be better.

<a href="">Pure Cleanse</a>

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