How about performance pay for MPs?
Judging by the reactions to last week’s huge pay rise for politicians, the public seem to be equally angered by (a) the money involved and (b) some MPs’ claims that they are helpless to do anything about the riches being heaped upon them.
Given that previously MPs moved at lightning speed to change certain laws – literally overnight, when it came to goldplating their handsome superannuation packages – there’s little doubt that if they so wished, they could readily change the mechanism by which their pay is set.
Meanwhile, the options exist of giving the money back, or donating it to charity.
It was a particularly bad week for this massive pay rise to surface.
Backbench MPs stand to receive an $8200 annual pay rise, taking their base salary to $ 156,000 before perks.
Cabinet ministers will $283,400, up from $268,500.
The ministerial perks – also recently raised – include free housing and hotel accommodation, and substantial free travel entitlements for spouses, partners and children.
Certainly, the small rise in the
get overall cost of living cannot be used to justify this backdated 5.5 per cent increase.
Last week, the Reserve Bank reduced its inflation forecasts for the next two years to a mere 1.8 per cent.
The pay and perks bonanza for MPs stands in stark contrast to the miserly treatment of others.
Days beforehand, the minimum wage was raised by only 50 cents, to $14.75 – a telling indication of how little we value the minimum wage workers who care for the elderly.
During the same week, students and others on state support received only a tiny 0.51 per cent cost of living adjustment to their allowances.
That will boost the maximum student allowance by 89 cents to $175.10 per week – a total weekly income considerably less than the $192 a week that some MPs will be pocketing from their pay rise alone.
Simultaneously, the housing allowance for students living away from home was kept frozen at $40 a week.
‘‘While MPs are giving themselves an extra $192 a week,’’ New Zealand Students’ Associations president Rory McCourt said last week, ‘‘students in Auckland are expected to pay their average rent of $220 a week with a $40 accommodation grant ...
‘‘Trade Me revealed a 9 per cent hike in average New Zealand rents for the year to January.’’ [On January’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment housing data figures, the average student rent in a three-bedroom flat in Auckland rose to $218.16 last year, up from $ 209.90 in 2013.]
So while the housing crisis in Auckland escalates, MPs are being handsomely rewarded for their failure to address it in any meaningful way.
Is there any feasible way of changing the rules by which MPs are constantly enriched, at taxpayer expense?
Last week, Greens co- leader Russel Norman suggested a law change by which any increase in MP salaries would be indexed to the percentage rise in the median income. Sounds like a good idea. It would function, in effect, as a kind of performance pay incentive to MPs.
Only if they increase the wealth of us all, would they get to share in the bounty, equally.
Given that the Government seems keen on performance pay for schoolteachers, perhaps it should lead by example, and apply similar incentives to the work of Parliament.