Thursday, November 18, 2010

And another

While we're on the subject of perk myths, we've been told repeatedly (usually by MPs who stand to reap lifetime benefits when they retire) that we can't possibly abolish the former MPs' travel rort, as it formed part of their conditions of employment.

This is simply bullshit. Here's what McGee's Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand, the definitive source for anything to do with Parliament, has to say on the issue:

members are in law neither employees nor self-employed
Which I think pretty much blows that myth out of the water.

To the extent that this rort was ever justified, it was so far in the past that almost no-one still in the House can claim any moral right to it. In the case of former members, most never had any right to it. In the case of those who did, it should have been cut off back in the 70's or 80's. I think its fair to say that 20 or 30 years of travel has been more than enough to compensate them from what they didn't get back then. We can cut them off with a clean conscience. They may have expected a lifetime of subsidised travel once they retired, but that expectation wasn't a legitimate one, and we're neither contractually nor morally bound to uphold it.