Lockwood vs Holmes

August 9, 2009

Lockwood Smith won this morning’s debate with Paul Holmes on Q&A .

One of the points he raised was how much, or how little, some MPs do:

One of the things that I’m actually amazed the media hasn’t focused on, is you now see who are the members in demand, who are asked to speak around the country, you can actually tell it from their travel expenses, because they’re being asked to appear in front of groups all round the country.  Some members are obviously not sought after much and therefore their expenses are only a fraction of the others.

When political commentators rate MPs it’s almost always on their performance in Wellington. That’s only a small part of the work of a good electorate MP and some of the better list MPs. Those who do the most outside Wellington obviously have greater costs for travel, accommodation meals and other out of pocket expenses.

It’s fair to ask why some MPs spend so much, but of equal concern is why some spend so little. If they’re not out of Wellington working for and with constituents what are they doing?

Another point Smith made was, unlike most jobs, there is no adjustment for length of service and experience:

PAUL I’m talking about private holidays.  I’m talking about private international travel MPs get subsidised on .

DR SMITH Well one of the reasons why that subsidy came in Paul is over the years if you take my situation prior to this last election.  Twenty four years’ service, pretty senior member, mostly on the front benches during that time, on exactly the same salary as the newest list member walking in six weeks before the election.  Now in broadcasting, is an experienced broadcaster like you on the same income as someone recruited six weeks ago?  Yet that’s the only profession I’m aware of where salaries don’t change after years of service.  The one privilege, the one privilege members get after years of service is that travel subsidy, and I think actually they deserve it.

MPs get additional pay for taking on extra roles but those who stay as back benchers with no additional responsibility get no recognition for their length of service and experience. Maybe some don’t deserve it, but some electorate MPs work very hard and their experience helps them serve their constituents better.

Then there’s the pressure on families:

PAUL  Alright, but why should we pay for the spouse?  I wouldn’t expect the companies I work for to pay for the spouse.

DR SMITH Think about it a little bit.  When you work Paul you’re mainly at home.  I got married recently, no honeymoon, my wife and I have spent very little time together since I’ve been married.  That’s the pressure on families, that is the real pressure on families.  Parliament Paul chews up, destroys and spits out families, and if you want to put more pressure on families and spouses and marriages, that’s fine, I’m not going to support you in that.

PAUL  Well Dr Smith with the greatest of respect, welcome to the real world.  Professional private business executives travel without their spouses all the time, anyone who’s ambitious and gets ahead sacrifices family.

DR SMITH Paul that’s ridiculous, the amount of time Members of Parliament have to spend away from their families far exceeds that.  If you think that’s not true, stand, Paul, stand for Parliament.  There’ve been quite a few in the media who have over recent times, and they’ve bailed out real fast, when they’ve found actually the going was a damn sight tougher than they expected.

MPs aren’t alone in having jobs which put pressure on families and marriages but few if any others have the same level of demand which is placed on MPs and it’s worse for those with big electorates. The way they are on call and in the public eye almost all the time requires sacrifices for them and their families which would be rare if not non-existent, in other jobs.

The panel of Katherine Rich, Andrew Geddis and Peter Neilson give their views on the discussion here.

Stephen Franks makes a very strong defence for allowances here. One of the points he makes is that including allowances in a higher salary would suit lazier and greedier MPs.


Happy birthday John

August 9, 2009

Nearly two decades ago when our children were young, I made a simple request for my birthday: a family day.

It was yet another particularly demanding time for farming and my farmer was often away at stock sales. When he was home he was busy on the farm and most days the only time we spent as a family was the early evening when we had a short time together over dinner – providing the phone didn’t ring.

It took several months before we could schedule the family day. But we eventually managed to go to Moeraki for lunch at the Boulders cafe followed by a walk to see the seals near the lighthouse.

I was reminded of that because today is John Key’s birthday and if our life was busy and demanding with little time for family, that of most MPs is far more so, with the demands and constraints on the Prime Minister most taxing of all.

I have no idea how John’s celebrating his birthday, but I hope that he’s able to have a family day, if not today then sometime very soon.


The money-go-round

August 9, 2009

It’s mid summer in a resort town on the shores of a lake.

It is raining, and the little town looks totally deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

 A tourist arrives in town.

 She enters the only hotel, puts a 100 dollar note on the reception counter, and goes to inspect the rooms upstairs.

 The hotel proprietor takes the 100 dollar note and runs to pay his debt to the butcher.

 The butcher takes the 100 dollar note, and runs to pay his debt to the farmer.

 The farmer takes the 100 dollar note, and runs to pay her debt to the stock firm which supplies her feed and fuel.

 The stock firm manager takes the 100 dollar note and runs to pay his debt to the town’s prostitute who gave her services on credit.

 The hooker runs to the hotel, and uses the 100 dollar note to pay her debt to the hotel proprietor for the rooms that she rented when she brought her clients there.

 The hotel proprietor then lays the 100 dollar note back on the counter.

 At that moment, the tourist comes down after inspecting the rooms, takes her 100 dollar note saying that she did not like any of the rooms, and leaves town.

 No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now without debt, and looks to the future with more optimism.

 And that is how the United States Government is doing business today.

Hat Tip: The Ag Letter  a weekly email newsletter on farming and related matters from Wairarapa Farm Consultants Baker and Associates.


WordPress co-founder speaks to Kim Hill

August 9, 2009

Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress (on which this and many other blogs depend) was interviewed by Kim Hill yesterday morning.

You can isten to the disucssion here .


August 9 in history

August 9, 2009

On August 9:

1483 The Sistine Chapel was opened.

1908 The US “Great White Fleet” entered Auckland harbour.

1919 My mother was born.

1961 John Key was born.


1965 Singapore gained independence.

1963 US singer Whitney Houston was born.

 

Sourced from Wikipedia and NZ History ONline.


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