Friday, September 23, 2011

Accepting two salaries

A couple of weeks ago, former Labour MP Chris Carter announced he would be leaving Parliament to take up a job with the UN in Kabul. He gave his valedictory two weeks ago and lef the country immediately. Last week he was reported as having completed his first day on the job, on the same day as the Taliban launched a series of attacks on the Afghan capital.

When Carter announced he was leaving, Labour leader Phil Goff gave voice to the public's expectation:

Carter must quit before he leaves, he said. "It's common sense. No-one accepts two salaries. If you've got a job and it's a paying job, you resign. I imagine that's what he'll do."
So, guess what Carter hasn't got round to doing yet? Oh, he's finally sent a letter to the Speaker, but his resignation won't take effect until September 30th, 24 days after he gave his valedictory and at least two weeks after he started working for the UN. He's been collecting two salaries for the past two weeks, being paid to work as an MP while not actually performing that role.

This isn't acceptable. But what can we do about it? Departing MPs don't fear the voters, and what other sanction do we have?