The triennial parliamentary appropriations review recommends an independent body be set MPs’ salaries and allowances.
They may not be keen to lose control of the process, but it would be better for them if they do.
Owners of private businesses may decide what they pay themselves but it would be most unusual in the private sector, or elsewhere in the public sector, to have salary earners determining their own pay and allowances.
No matter how transparent the process is, if MPs are in charge of what they get they’ll be accused of taking more than they ought to.
The review also suggests an independent regulator set the amount of support individual MPs get or:
23. If an independent regulator is not given responsibility for determining the individual members’ support entitlement, that:
a. a cross-party agreement on the appropriate funding regime be entered into;
b. the funding for the Maori/largest electorates be altered to $87,588; c. East Coast and Taranaki-King Country electorates be added to the Maori/large electorate tier of funding; and
d. an additional intermediate tier, receiving $87,588 (but not an extra staff member), be established consisting of the Northland, Rangitikei and Wairarapa electorates and up to five electorates in the lowest socio-economic areas of the country.
The coalition agreement with the Maori Party resulted in an increase in support for Maori eelctorates and the bigger general ones but East Coast King Country which covers 13,649 square kilometres and Taranaki-King Country (12,869 sq kms) which got nothing extra are bigger than Hauraki-Waikato (12, 580 sq kms) which did.
It is both fair and reasonable that electorates which are more difficult to service get more support. This is at least as much for constituents as it is for MPs.
The review’s suggestion of an end to overseas travel rebates is sensible and it’s reasonable that there’s compensation for the loss of this perk in salaries, although that has, unfairly, been painted as a pay rise.
One recommendation I oppose is the suggestion that the class of family members MPs can employ as support staff be broadened.
Kiwiblog, who has done his usual thorough examination of the review here, says at the moment only spouses, partners and dependent children are excluded from working for MPs.
That’s reasonable but I see no need for that to be extended to other family members.
I know of only one sibling who works for an MP and she does far more work than she is paid for, providing very good value for the taxpayer and extra support for the MP.