Another year, and the Remuneration Commission proposes another increase in MP's expenses. But the MPs don't think its enough:
A review of expenses by the Remuneration Authority, which sets MPs' pay, is proposing the amount they are allowed to claim for hotel rooms while in Auckland and Christchurch on business be increased from $180 to $210. Outside of those cities it would rise from $160 to $190 a night.
MPs say the hike isn't enough because it now doesn't include breakfast, internet access or parking. But party whips wanted to keep their views under wraps, refusing to release a submission to the authority or confirm details.
Asked questions about the submission, National Party senior whip Louise Upston said permission would need to be sought from all parties and the authority before she would comment.
Its not the fact that they want a bigger increase that bugs me: MPs should be funded for the actual, reasonable and necessary expenses for them to do their jobs properly. This may include a higher allowance for motels (and the proposed increase in family air travel seems entirely reasonable; MPs shouldn't have to sacrifice their families to serve the public). No, what annoys me is the conspiracy of silence around it. The setting of MP's expenses should be done publicly and transparently. Instead, party whips appear to have reached an explicit deal among themselves to try and keep the public in the dark, and to lobby in secret. And then they wonder why the public thinks they're all thieving scum? Once again, they have no-one to blame but themselves...