Smith backs down, makes MPs’ expenses public
Speaker Lockwood Smith today re-issued a report on MPs’ expenses from July 1 to September 30 this year – but his time including travel costs (which at first glance appear, ironically, uncontroversial – see the full list here).
Last Friday, Dr Smith removed personal air travel costs from the report, which revealed each party’s total spending only.
The Speaker said the approach was being taken because the cost of that travel was funded by MPs, with set amounts coming out of their overall salary package for the purpose.
But on Saturday, Prime Minister John Key said he had told Dr Smith he thought the transparency of releasing the individual amounts was a good thing.
Having opened the figures up the public there was a risk they would see this latest move as reversal of that transparency, Mr Key said.
"Once the genie is out of the bottle it's hard to put it back in," Mr Key told media in Vietnam where he was attending the East Asia Summit.
This afternoon, Dr Smith said his change of mind was not due to pressure from the boss, but because Labour and Green MPs unilaterally making their travel expenses public. The situation now demanded that all expenses be revealed to remove any impression of impropriety on the part of the remaining members.
Dr Smith said he would also be considering "more comprehensively the relationship between the entitlements in the Speaker's directions and the remuneration for members of Parliament determined by the Remuneration Authority".