New bill doubles governor-general's severance

BY ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 21/07/2010
VICE-REGAL SALARY: The current governor-general, Sir Anand Satyanand, is paid $191,645 a year.
MARTIN DE RUYTER/Nelson Mail
VICE-REGAL SALARY: The current governor-general, Sir Anand Satyanand, is paid $191,645 a year.

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It's a farewell fit for a queen or at least her New Zealand representative – the governor-general's severance pay is to be doubled to six months' salary.

However, the rise is meant to compensate the governor-general for having to start paying income tax, like everyone else, according to the Governor-General Bill that passed its first reading in Parliament yesterday. The requirement applies to future governors-general.

But the bill continues the paying of an annuity to the governor-general or their surviving spouse once they leave office, as well as current perks such as domestic travel and chauffeur-driven cars for duties.

Green MP Keith Locke said yesterday that those perks should also be scrapped. "It runs against the track that we've been going down in Parliament that you don't get any perks after you retire.

"It may be desirable for them to attend certain functions but they don't need an annuity for that. They could be given a free trip and expenses per duty rather than just some big amount."

If passed, the changes will come into force when the next governor-general assumes office in August next year.

The current governor-general, Sir Anand Satyanand, is paid $191,645 a year. As of 2008, each living former governor-general was receiving $62,000 a year. On their death, their surviving spouse would get $31,000 a year.

Mr Locke said the role was still relevant as an "on-the-spot" head of state. But he believed MPs should recommend a candidate to avoid political appointments. "Instead of the Government recommending to the Queen that a certain person be appointed governor-general, the recommendation would be by 75 per cent of Parliament."

He was working on tabling an amendment to the bill at the select committee stage.

He said writing access to chauffeur-driven cars into legislation was "very strange", especially "with the Government being more perceptive to perks to public officials like MPs". "It's maintaining that idea of pomp and ceremony."

The bill came after a review of the Civil List Act by the Law Commission last year, which said governor-general provisions were "old-fashioned".

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