The Statutes Amendment Bill is an annual piece of legislation to provide for "technical, short, and non-controversial amendments" - basically, minor legislative tidy-ups rather than policy changes.
The National party is using it to extend former MPs' undeserved travel rort by up to $4,000 a year.
How? A Supplementary Order Paper proposed yesterday by Simon Bridges would amend Schedule 2 of the Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Act 2013 - the bit that deals with Travel entitlements of former members of Parliament. The relevant section currently reads:
The total amount paid to a former member by way of rebates for international air travel in each year must not exceed the amount of rebate to which the former member would have been entitled if he or she had flown between Auckland and London using the lowest-cost online business-class return air fare as at 1 July in the relevant year.
The SOP would change that "lowest cost" to "an Air New Zealand". A quick google shows the difference to be worth about $4,000 each way. Because obviously, we can't expect our "elder statesmen" to fly China Southern or Malaysian Airlines. No, English and Brownlee and Peters and Mallard will get nothing but the best when they retire.
Fortunately its a Statutes Amendment Bill, so all it takes is one MP to object and it doesn't happen. David Seymour? The Greens? I'm looking at you here.
Meanwhile, MPs wonder why the public view them as thieving parasites? This is why. The travel rort for retired members was never justified. It serves no public purpose whatsoever. It should have been abolished. Instead, it has been enshrined in legislation and now the government wants to increase it by stealth. Unless Parliament stops this, MPs will earn every bit of their reputation. And they'll only have themselves to blame for it.