Key calls for politicians' pay freeze

04:00, Jan 31 2009

Prime Minister John Key has urged the Remuneration Authority to freeze MPs' pay at its next review due to the tough economic times.

Mr Key today said he had also written to the Remuneration Authority asking it to exercise restraint when considering all salary rises in its jurisdiction.

The authority, which is independent and free to ignore Mr Key, determines pay rises for MPs, the judiciary and specified statutory officers and members of local authorities and community boards.

Mr Key's letter comes just two months after MPs pocketed pay rises of between 3.8 and 4.8 percent. Judges were granted a 4.8 percent rise a month later.

Mr Key's letter relates only to future rises.

It also follows moves by new United States President Barack Obama to freeze the pay of top White House staff.


But Mr Key said it was still a case of the Government leading by example.

"The New Zealand economy is facing what looks to be a difficult time ahead," he said.

"It is only right that in these changing economic times, as ordinary New Zealanders tighten their belts, MPs and ministers also play their part.

"While the Remuneration Authority is an independent body I would hope that it recognises the current economic climate calls for a cautious use of taxpayer money."

Mr Key said the National Party would also file a submission with the authority calling for a zero pay increase in parliamentary salaries.

MPs' salaries are expected to be reviewed again in November.

In calculating the increase the authority takes into account public and private sector pay rises, along with those of the judiciary.