Thursday, December 11, 2008

Feathering their own nests

This morning, National passed its tax cut package as the Taxation (Urgent Measures and Annual Rates) Bill. The bill cancels Labour's planned cuts to the bottom rate, socking the poor with an extra $730 million over five years. That money goes straight into the pockets of the rich.

Unmentioned in all of this is how much our MPs stand to gain. Under Labour's plan, MPs would receive a further $600 a year by April 1, 2010. under National's, they get a lot more. Here's the details from the Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances Determination 2008:

  • John Key (Prime Minister): Paid $393,000, so gets $8,660.
  • Bill English (Deputy Prime Minister): Paid $267,700, so gets $5,154.
  • Gerry Brownlee, Nick Smith, and other Cabinet Ministers: Paid $243,700, so get $4,674.
  • Rodney Hide, Pita Sharples, and other Ministers Outside Cabinet: Paid $204,300, so get $3,886 (which casts the Maori Party's vote against a low-income tax credit to offset National's effective hike to the bottom rate in a whole new light; there's a name for MPs who vote to enrich themselves while fucking over their base: "former MP").
  • Other MPs: Paid $131,000, so get $2,420.

Oh, and John Key's figure doesn't include whatever he gets from his personal fortune of $50 million. Assuming he gets a mere 5% rate of return (and that he even pays his taxes, rather than hiding them with corporate shell games) that amounts to a cool $50,000 a year - more than 80% of New Zealanders even earn.

National aren't just rewarding their base - they're feathering their own nests. It's disgusting. It verges on corrupt. It is, at the least, a significant conflict of interest. And the two-thirds of New Zealanders who get basically nothing from this package deserve to know that.