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Travel And Accommodation Determination for MPs Released

Friday 22 August

Travel And Accommodation Determination for MPs Released

The Remuneration Authority today released its determination covering Members of Parliament New Zealand accommodation, travel services for family members, and travel services for former Prime Ministers and their spouses.

This is the Authority’s first determination under the Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Act and comes into force on 21 September, the day after the election.

John Errington, the chair of the Authority, said that the final determination is the result of extensive research into what other Westminster type parliaments provide for their members, a thorough review of services currently provided, and lengthy discussions and consultation with various groups of MPs.

“Members of Parliament are recognised as having two distinct places of work and should not be expected to have to meet work related costs from their own pockets” said John Errington.

“This means that the costs of accommodation away from their home base on parliamentary or Ministerial business should be met from the public purse.”

A Wellington accommodation payment of $28,000 pa for members and $41,000 pa for Ministers is provided, or for members who so elect, a reimbursement of actual capped hotel accommodation costs. The levels of the Wellington payments were set by reference to actual rental costs in central Wellington and recognise that Ministers spend more time in Wellington and are more likely to have their family members staying with them.

Out of Wellington accommodation costs are reimbursable (up to specified capped amounts) where the costs are incurred on parliamentary or Ministerial business. The daily caps were set by reference to actual hotel costs in various cities and may be increased if suitable accommodation cannot be found in specific circumstances such as a major sporting, cultural, diplomatic event, or if suitable accommodation cannot be found for those with disabilities.

“MPs travel a lot as part of their work, both within their electorates and around the country, and routinely attend evening and weekend meetings, and other events. They must be constantly available to constituents, the general public, and the media in a way not required of most other groups. The pressures on Ministers and the Prime Minister are especially demanding”, said John Errington. “As a consequence, members and Ministers have much less of the family life other New Zealanders take for granted, often over a long period of years. Some limited family- friendly measures designed to recognise that reality are provided for.”

Travel services within New Zealand are provided for family members but limitations have now been placed on the number of trips and the circumstances under which the travel costs may be reimbursed. “This is a departure from the current arrangements which have unlimited travel for partners, and limited restrictions on the travel purposes”, said John Errington.

He stressed that the final decisions regarding the services to be provided were made independently by the Authority based on the principles it had adopted and the provisions of the Act.

“The usage of the services and any issues arising from the wording of the determination will be closely monitored over the next three years leading up to a review of the determination in 2017.

“The Act also states that if services provided include an element of remuneration to MPs and Ministers, or result in other private benefit, the value of that benefit must be taken into account in determining MPs’ and Ministers’ salaries. The Authority will do that in a salary determination to be made later in the year,” John Errington said.

The determination may be found on the New Zealand legislation web site under the name “Members of Parliament (Accommodation Services for Members and Travel Services for Family Members and Former Prime Ministers) Determination 2014”.


ENDS

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