Friday, November 19, 2010

Myth busted

Yesterday I highlighted Lockwood Smith's reliance on the myth of unfunded electorate offices as "justification" for his travel perks. It turns out that in Smith's case that myth is even more tenuous justification than I though. Here's what the first edition of McGee's Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand has to say (p. 59):

From the 1 December 1984 all members (including Ministers) were entitled to assistance from the then Legislative Department for the operation of an electorate office. This included a part-time secretary and a contribution towards rental, office establishment and running costs. Members in adjacent electorate offices were allowed to share offices and where this was done they were entitled to a full-time secretary.
[Thanks to the Parliamentary Library for pointing me at this; I hadn't noticed it in my quick browse the other day]

So, Lockwood Smith's "justification" for a lifetime of subsidised air travel - an approximately half million dollar benefit at today's prices - is that for the four and a half months between his election in July 1984 and the funding of electorate support on 1 December of that year, he had to lick his own stamps. And he wonders why people see him as grasping and greedy...