MPs set for perks boost

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 16:46 25/06/2014

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MPs are in line for another perks boost, with a review underway into their housing and family travel allowances.

The Remuneration Authority sent proposals to all MPs yesterday.

MPs can look forward to a $4000 increase in accommodation services to $28,000 a year. If they choose to stay in a Wellington hotel, they could claim $190 a night (up from $160) - to a maximum of $28,000 a year.

In Auckland they can claim $210 per night for a hotel and an extra $70 can be approved in "extra-ordinary circumstances".

Backbench MPs are paid around $150,000 a year, rising to around $250,000 a year for ministers.  

Ministers, the Speaker and deputy speaker would be entitled to $41,000 a year - an increase of $3500.

Ministers can claim $240 per night for a capital hotel room.

Finance Minister Bill English said the authority makes decisions on pay, not politicians. And he could not say if ministers are struggling to pay Wellington rents. 

"All I know is that the public didn't like it when politicians made the decisions about it ... now that has shifted and they have got an objective third party making the decision. We all have to wear those decisions.''

Some changes to MPs family travel perks are also suggested. Currently spouses and family members are covered for air, train, taxi and ferry expenses for "any purpose except personal business purposes''. 

The authority suggests this be limited to 20 domestic one-way trips per year - to accompany the MP on parliamentary business. This would rise to 30 trips for ministers' relations - and no limit on the spouse or partner of the Prime Minister.

Spouses of ministers and the Speaker can use a VIP chauffeur driven car "at any time". This also applies to the leader of parties with 25 or more MPs.

Children aged 5-17 would be entitled to eight one way trips a year to Wellington (up from four). Under fives would get 20 trips, or 30 if they are children of a minister.

Remuneration Authority chair John Errington confirmed a review was underway, in line with new legislation passed last year. MPs must make a submission by July 24, with a final determination expected by mid-August.

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