Thursday, November 12, 2009

A conspiracy of silence

A lot of questions have been asked in recent weeks over MPs travel perks, who is using them, and how much it is costing us. The parties' response? A conspiracy of silence:

Labour and National are refusing to say how much their backbenchers have claimed in taxpayer-funded travel perks for overseas holidays.

Both parties say they will not disclose which MPs used subsidies for international airfares, insisting they have gone far enough to end secrecy surrounding their perks.

The stance comes despite several government ministers willingly disclosing this week how they have used the perks this year.

The Greens and ACT are still considering requests, while the Maori Party has provided only partial information. But overall its not a good look. This is public money we're talking about, and the public has the right to see how it is spent. That's certainly the stance any of these politicians would take if we were talking about public sector managers or a government department. But for some reason the rules are different for themselves. It is hypocrisy, pure and simple - and yet another example of how MPs earn their poor reputation.

There's a chance here for voluntary action from a minor party such as the Greens to be a circuit breaker and force disclosure from everyone else. We should start hassling them about it.