MPs Pay Bill Completes First Reading

by Desk Editor on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 — 4:54 PM

A bill changing the way MPs salary increases are set has completed its first reading under Urgency

The Government put the House into Urgency to pass through all stage Remuneration Authority (Members of Parliament Remuneration) Amendment Bill following Question Time.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse said the Remuneration Authority had recently awarded MPs a 3.56 percent increase to MPs salaries and this was out of proportion to inflation and other people’s pay rises. The Government wanted the pay rise to be more in line with increases in the public sector.

The bill would set aside the Remuneration Authority’s last determination and replace it with a formula linking MPs pay to the public sector salary movements as measured by the Quarterly Employment Survey. The formula would also take into account other factors such as travel allowances.

Annette King said Labour would support the bill as MPs had never asked for a big pay rise and did not want a big pay rise. However there were still questions to be answered. Recently released papers showed how little information had been gathered about the effect of the bill.

The bill had been delayed for a “sloppy” change to alter the formula. The Prime Minister had said for five years there needed to be changes, but nothing had been done until this bill to be rushed through under urgency, she said.

The Greens were the only party to oppose the bill at first reading and the urgency motion with Metiria Turei saying they had considered supporting the bill as it did put forward a criteria which constrained MPs pay rises, however there was no evidence this bill like the last version would constrain MPs pay.

The Government introduced the Remuneration Authority Amendment Bill last week, but this was replaced today.

Ms Turei said a better solution would be to increase MPs pay by the dollar amount of the median pay increase and not the percentage.

NZ First’s Tracey Martin said her MPs would support the bill at first reading, but had concerns. The bill had been rushed and it was unclear whether it would have the effect the Government said. It seemed the bill had more to do with the upcoming pay round for much of the public sector.

The bill completed its first reading by 106 to 14 with the Greens opposing and MPs turned to the second reading of the bill.

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