Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Earning that reputation VII

So, what's the latest way MPs are conspiring to earn their bad reputation? Removing any factual test on where they live, allowing them to claim "out of town" accommodation expenses, even if they actually live in Wellington:

Members of Parliament are secretly planning to change the rules around their $24,000-a-year accommodation allowance to make it easier for those who make Wellington their home to still be counted as out-of-towners.

Under the new rules, MPs will be able to nominate a "home base" where they normally live when not doing parliamentary business in Wellington.

If that is outside Wellington, they will qualify for the accommodation allowance.

n recognition of the requirement for them to be in Wellington for longer periods than backbenchers, ministers, the leader of the opposition, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker would be exempt from even the loose test for a "home base".

MPs have resolved that for senior members "their non-Wellington home would remain their `home base' regardless of the amount of time they are able to spend there (thereby also preventing the perception that the member is no longer based in their constituency)".

An ordinary MP's home base would be deemed to be in Wellington only if their electorate was within its commuting area or they lived "permanently" in the area.

So, their response to Bill English's appalling ethical failure in charging the taxpayer $700 a week for living in his own home is to legalise it. And then they wonder why we think they're dogshit.

But it gets better! That change to transparency around international travel perks, that almost all party leaders have now denounced? It turns out that their representatives on the Parliamentary Services Commission all agreed to it:

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key confirmed he would be asking his MPs next week to consider voluntarily disclosing their travel expenses, effectively flouting the Speaker's ruling. But this appears to cut across the position National took behind closed doors. Its representative on the PSC, Napier MP Chris Tremain, is understood to have raised no objections when Dr Smith outlined his plan.

ACT leader Rodney Hide also called for transparency but his party's representative, John Boscawen, is also believed to have raised no objections.

The sole exception to this was the Greens. As for the rest, they have only themselves to blame when we regard them as lying, self-interested hypocrites.