Editorial: All MPs aren't created equal

WARWICK RASMUSSEN DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 12:00 26/12/2012

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OPINION: It may fly in the face of popular opinion, but the majority of members of Parliament do work hard.

A lot of that work goes unseen. Electorate MPs, especially, are expected to attend all manner of events and openings - even burger joints - as well as advocate for people in their patch.

In general terms, they travel a lot and sacrifice a lot of time away from families: again, this part of the job goes largely unseen.

But for their work, they are generously paid.

A backbench MP, many of whom are largely unknown and almost anonymous, got a backdated pay rise this month of $2800, up to $144,600.

For any MP who says they work hard for that money and should earn more, how about telling that to people who earn then "average" annual gross wage of $47,000.

If you're bringing home more than three times the average wage, you're doing all right.

Such pay rates are out of reach for a large chunk of New Zealanders, and MPs need to remind themselves and be reminded of it from time to time.

And that goes without the travel and accommodation perks available.

Party leaders and Cabinet ministers are on more than twice that of backbenchers, but at least with those positions there is some sense of accountability and scrutiny.

It's easy to point the finger at MPs and say that they are overpaid, there are too many of them and they get pay rises too often, especially during difficult economic times.

The problem is that there are some fantastic representatives and others who just go through the motions or are out of their depth, yet they are all treated equally.

Some do tireless work for their community, while others don't.

It does, then, seem somewhat unfair that there isn't some way of measuring an MP's performance and tying it in with their salary.

That would certainly lift the game of many non-performers or, at least, cull a few of them out of Parliament altogether.

ONE MORE THING

The team here at the Standard hopes all our readers had a fun and memorable Christmas Day.

While it is a day of togetherness and family for many, it is also a time for quiet reflection on those who aren't so fortunate or who have experienced loss around what was meant to be a festive season.

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- Manawatu Standard

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