10% salary rise sought for MPs

Lockwood SmithMPs are up for a 10% pay hike as compensation for losing international travel perks, but may also lose other allowances as officials try to rein in the ballooning cost of running Parliament.

A review of Parliamentary expenses has recommended ending MPs' international travel perk, in which up to 90% of overseas air fares are paid for them and their spouses on private trips.

However, the report by the parliamentary appropriations review committee also said MPs' salaries should be adjusted to recognise the loss of the entitlement.

The travel perk costs taxpayers about $600,000 a year, but a 10% salary increase recommended in the report for MPs would result in an additional $1.7 million.

The Unite union, which represents 9000 workers, last night slammed the recommendation, saying it was unfair, given that many workers were already struggling as a result of petrol prices, GST, electricity bills going up and the emissions trading scheme coming into effect.

Union general secretary Matt McCarten said it was simply unbelievable.

"It would make every New Zealander vomit in their Weetbix tomorrow morning.

"They put themselves out to be a caste of workers who are treated differently from others," Mr McCarten said.

"Most New Zealanders are struggling.

"They don't enjoy any perks. They don't get any allowances or anything like that. It's not fair."

Speaker Lockwood Smith has vigorously defended the travel perk in the past as being a way of increasing MPs' remuneration without raising their salaries.

The recommendation to end the perk was one of a number made by the committee in its three-yearly review of spending on services to Parliament and MPs which has gone from $54 million in 1991 to almost $140 million last year.

Given that increase and the tight economic environment, it was time to constrain parliamentary spending, said the committee's chairmen and authors of the report, former Speaker of the House Doug Kidd and economist Philip Barry.

MPs' pay rises

Hey, what about 2.5% like the rest of us mere mortals? The ones who got a pay rise this year, that is.

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