Taxpayers pay for MP's counselling
Defeated MPs, struggling to cope with an election loss, are entitled to four taxpayer-funded therapy sessions, a guide for ex-politicians reveals.
It lists all the entitlements departing members can claim after they resign, or are kicked out of office. And included in the benefits are four sessions of confidential counselling by Auckland-based Stratos. The guide provides a number for 24-hour help.
Outgoing MPs can claim the therapy between election day on September 20 and October 4, when the results are formally declared by the Electoral Commission.
The cost of the sessions are not given, but an hour of therapy usually costs between $100 and $150.
MPs voted out of office can also claim their travel perks, which include free flights, taxis, train and ferry tickets, during those two weeks. And they are entitled to an extra three months of their salaries of at least $150,000 a year.
Domestic travel claims are limited to 12 return flights a year.
Ex-MPs who were elected before 1999, and their spouses or partners, are also entitled to free domestic and international travel. If they served two terms, they get a 50 per cent rebate on travel, rising to 90 per cent for those who stayed for five terms.
Six retiring MPs can claim the perk. Labour's Ross Robertson and Health Minister Tony Ryall get the maximum 90 per cent rebate, National's Eric Roy and Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia can claim 75 per cent, and Tau Henare and Shane Ardern, both National, get 60 per cent. If they die, their spouses are still entitled to the benefit.
The international travel is limited to the equivalent of a business-class return journey to London.
There are 14 MPs standing for re-election who will be entitled to the lifetime discount when they retire.
The guide, prepared by the Parliamentary Service in the leadup to the election, states: "Former members cannot claim rebates for travel that was for private business purposes . . . this definition is broad, and may include activities related to charities and non-government organisations."
Later this year Parliamentary Service will publish financial statements that will include, for the first time, expenditure incurred by former MPs and their spouses.
The guide says MPs can use their parliamentary offices for up to five days so they can box up their possessions and complete any correspondence.
The taxpayer will also fork out for a month's rent and bills for their constituency offices - as long as there is money left in their individual budgets.
Computers and smartphones must be returned within four weeks, but former MPs have the option of buying them.
And for those MPs who just can't let politics go, they are entitled to swipe cards that mean they can return to Parliament any time between 7am and 6.30pm Monday to Friday. It gives them access to the precinct, library, Bellamys private dining room, and underground parking.