Monday, November 09, 2009

Not abolished

DPF this morning does the usual fawning greasejob on Rodney Hide's apology, complete with thinly veiled threats of political utu:

I think MPs from all parties should be wary of using the subsidised overseas travel perk that exists for MPs who entered before 1999. It got abolished for more recent MPs for a reason, and any current MP who uses it for personal travel is going to possibly find the cost of using it is more than the “saving”.
Except that the perk hasn't been abolished. We're still paying for MP's overseas holidays. The rules are in the Directions and Specifications for Services and Funding Entitlements for the House of Representatives, its Members, Former Members, and Certain Electoral Candidates 2008 [PDF], and if you check out rules 3.13 and 3.14 on p. 24, you'll see that any MP who has served more than a term is eligible for subsidised private - i.e. non-Parliamentary - international travel, on a sliding scale, rising from 25% for those who have served only one term (like Jo Goodhew or Nathan Guy), to 50% for those who have completed two (such as John Key), to 90% for those who have completed four or more (such as Rodney Hide). It is only former MPs who were subject to a 1999 cutoff (see rules 6.13 to 6.16 on pp. 63 - 65).

How much this costs is difficult to determine - sadly, the Speaker's new "transparency" does not separate Parliamentary from private travel - but I don't think we should be paying it at all. It's not an actual, reasonable, and necessary expense of being an MP; it's simply a perk of office, generously voted to MPs by themselves. Another example of how they earn that reputation...

The Speaker of the House can end this rort any time he wants, simply by issuing new rules. It speaks volumes that he has not. But then, he's troughing it like the rest - he was elected in 1984, and gets the maximum discount.