Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Moving targets

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  • Kyle Matthews,

    I don’t recall the specifics but I’m pretty sure he was allowed free bus, train and maybe airline travel, anywhere/anytime sort of thing.

    Ironic given the controversy around the $30K or so that he got reimbursed for taxis one year, that he ever incurred any other travel expenses.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    I think he lived way out near one of the West Coast beaches - a long way by taxi. Not surprised he racked up so much.

    Oh the halcyon days when no-one gave a tinker's cuss about any of these pesky expenses!

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    I'd also love to know how many public sector PASers out there, have had to pay for their professionally relevant "contact with the world" out of their own pockets or constrained and tightly audited budgets?

    Well, I did have to pay my way, once again, to the recent SPADA conference ($660). But many academics have the privilege of conference funding--my university gives me a lump sum every three years, which allows for around one overseas conference a year. Some of my colleagues regard such funding as a right; I regard it as a privilege (I know many school teachers who would benefit from such opportunities).

    We do need to justify such funding in terms of delivering conference papers and subsequent publication but it is certainly a great aspect of academic life.

    Russell: whilst we are talking about funding things, any thoughts on my suggestion about contributing financially to PA?

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2557 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    And let's not caught up "this in lieu of a wage increase in 1972 and a life time right to travel"
    Plenty of above average wage increases since then knocks the first claim on the head

    I used to have a couple of licenses that were given to me "for a lifetime"
    It was easy for a Government to change those to having to renew them every five years with an ever increasing fee

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I think it's rather more racist the way political parties decide they need a visible ethnic minority candidate for certain seats and adopt the first chancer that puts themselves forward. The assumption being that said minority group will vote for anyone from the same general area irrespective of that candidates incompetence, bigotry or criminality. (or in the case of Field, all three)

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    @Raymond My UK paper driving license remains valid until my 70th birthday. If I renewed it, they'd give me one with a photo valid 10 years, so I'm not renewing it.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    Plenty of above average wage increases since then knocks the first claim on the head

    But if the 1972 trade-off had not been made then MPs would be earning more now, every increase since then would have gone on top of what ever they would have recieved in 1972 instead of the travel allowances.

    MPs since 1972 have signed up to specific conditions of employment, having the state sweep that away is not good employment practice it seems to me.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    I feel kind of squicky defending Pete Hodgson's honour (mostly because I don't think he's got any), but I think he can be acquitted of charges of Winston-esque dog whistling. What's more interesting is how careful he's been to avoid accusing Pansy and Sammy Wong of any criminal wrongdoing -- knowing full well, I suspect, that he doesn't need to.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    Neil, MPs do a pretty piss-poor job of behaving like employees in most other respects (we can’t cut short their “contract” for misbehaviour, for example) so I don’t see why we should pretend that the remuneration is something cast in stone. Especially since allowances come and go mid-term.
    If they can lie their way into power because their true agenda would never fly with the electorate (pretty much a verbatim quote from Douglas), then we should feel no qualms about demanding retroactive alteration of whatever perks were offered with the job. We’re not touching their gold-plated super scheme, just their limitless opportunity to suck the taxpayer sav for jaunts overseas.

    I don’t buy the suggestion that post-Parliament trips do the slightest bit of good for NZ, either. If they’re good for NZ, they’ll be being funded by someone, be it a private sector employer, or MFAT (courtesy of an ambassadorship or the like), or by the UN or some similar international body. If they can get someone to fund it outside the auspices of their ex-MP pork, it’s probably worthwhile. If not, I don’t think it’s worth much more to NZ’s profile than any other tourist jaunt to climes foreign.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Excuse me, Rich? Say what you like about Pansy Wong (I can't stop you), but she wasn't exactly Faafoi-ed into Botany from the leader's office.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Some history for you compliments of the Herald and Claire Trevett

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Up thread, Neil Morrison possibly, made the comment in favour of the perk in some form as MPs often continue in public service after they leave parliament. That's my experience, but hell it's hard to defend the perk when it's been abused so often. I mightn't have picked it up early, but I actually think Tau Henare, in a tweet, was one of the first sitting MPs to suggest it be dumped and I'm inclined to agree with him.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    A range of MPs were tweeting on Saturday about the perk, including Tau, Heather Roy, Metiria, and Chris Hipkins. There may have been others too.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I have no problem with travel being funded while MPs serve, but they already have a generous superannuation scheme for after they leave office. And screw the idea that they need to be 'compensated' for having something taken away that you'd never see in any other line of work.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Ross Mason,

    For once, The Herald actually deserves compliments. Could have done without this though:

    Dean Knight, a senior lecturer in public law at Victoria University, said while MPs were not technically employees whose perks were in contracts, it would be difficult to remove them without compensation.

    He said a case could be made for stripping Taito Phillip Field of the privilege on the grounds of strong public interest, because of his convictions. Speaker Lockwood Smith is expected to do so by the end of the month. "But for other ex-MPs, just because there is a public outcry isn't a strong enough countervailing public interest argument to take it away without compensating for it."

    Mr Knight said the MPs had a reasonable expectation that the perks they were offered would not be discontinued.

    The president of the Association of Former Members of Parliament, Graham Kelly, said this week that the association would defend any attempt to strip the perk from ex-MPs, describing it as a legal entitlement and part of their conditions of employment.

    Entitle-itis praecox. With friends like Mr. Kelly, who needs enemies?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Also unamused to see Key getting away with using the word "mistake" again to describe repetitive conscious behaviour - whose criminality is yet to be determined, sure, but whose moral bankruptcy is already obvious. Accountability seems so out of fashion at the top.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sacha,

    Serious question – if we were talking about departmental CEOs defending their “right” to taxpayer-funded travel for life, which MP would be first in line to take a whack?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sacha,

    To be fair, Sacha, perhaps we need to leave determinations of criminality to the courts. Trial by Question Time never ends well.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Yes, that's what I meant when I wrote "whose criminality is yet to be determined". However there is enough evidence already available to Key for action to be taken if he really wanted to.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Dean Knight, a senior lecturer in public law at Victoria University, said while MPs were not technically employees whose perks were in contracts, it would be difficult to remove them without compensation.

    He said a case could be made for stripping Taito Phillip Field of the privilege on the grounds of strong public interest, because of his convictions.

    That doesn't make much sense to me. If Phillip Field was an employee you couldn't remove the perks as they would form part of a contract. And yet you can do it for him as an MP, but not others. Sounds like a moral argument dressed up as a legal one to me.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Phil Lyth,

    A range of MPs were tweeting on Saturday about the perk, including Tau, Heather Roy, Metiria, and Chris Hipkins. There may have been others too

    They were, yes, I was just interested that it appeared to me that Tau started the discussion.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    The president of the Association of Former Members of Parliament, Graham Kelly, said this week that the association would defend any attempt to strip the perk from ex-MPs, describing it as a legal entitlement and part of their conditions of employment.

    Bunkum. Utter bunkum. MPs are not employees. And the Association cannot provide one document to back that claim, because there is nothing.

    Oh, and Twitter, it was fascinating being able to see the MPs talking to one another using their iPad / iPhone / Blackberry

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    @Rich. Your UK driver's licence is only valid for 12 months after arrival in New Zealand. I drove on my UK licence for a number of years before a helpful traffic officer pointed this out to me, and I bit the bullet and got the 10 year licence. (Oddly enough I got the UK licence by trading in my NZ licence while resident in England - though their computer system couldn't cope with a 23 yr old who had had his licence for 8 years).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 615 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Check this table on Corruption Perception.

    [EDIT: One might suggest we have slipped a teeny weeny bit.]

    We have the 1st equal possie for a reason. We have some of the most un-influenced (bribe, cash, graft or favour) MPs, Judiciary, Police, Public Service and businesses in the world. We have that status for a reason.

    I would argue that it is because we pay these people enough that it removes the incentive to take it under the table.

    This is in general. There are always the odd one or two who are the exception and thankfully they have been found out and punished. That is the way it should be.

    If $450k is the price to allow (any) MP to trip the world fantastic after their “service to their country” one might then argue it is a small price to pay for this standing in the World.

    There may be grounds to enquire into the relevance or otherwise of the payments/subsidy/discount today. That is to be commended. But I would suggest some caution as to what the outcome should be to ensure that the status of NZs Corruption Perception remains as it is.

    If you pay people in high places peanuts, you invite influence.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    If you pay people in high places peanuts, you invite influence.

    If we take away the travel perk, what's left is $130 000 - $393 000 worth of peanuts.

    There may be good arguments for replacing the travel perk with a pile of cash, "they're being paid peanuts" isn't one of them.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

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