International travel perks for the people who got us into this mess?

There’s a long-running debate about the value of blogs compared to the mainstream media. Which provides value? Which just jumps on the other’s bandwagon?

The story of proposed changes – let’s be frank, increases – in current and former MPs’ international travel perks may turn some of your assumptions about that on their heads.

It’s about the perk which is still given to anyone who served as a Member of Parliament prior to 1999, a rebate on their travel for the year up to the cost of a business-class (because they’re far too important to travel coach) return fair to London (which I’m sure was determined based on distance and not rampant internalized colonialism.)

And the government is making some changes to it.

It broke on Twitter, which isn’t too surprising to people who actually use Twitter, with this from Philip Lyth:

It was picked up at No Right Turn, who calculated the change to actually represent an increase of up to $4,000 per year, and expanded on by Graeme Edgeler at Public Address,

Now, as I’m writing this on Sunday evening, it’s hit the Stuff and Herald websites – both depending heavily on Edgeler’s write-up.

If that isn’t a case of the accursed Twitterati and anonymous bloggers leading the way with important news stories, I don’t know what is.*

I think we must in some way recognise the work and commitment of our elected representatives, but the idea of travel perks – especially the kind that last long after you’ve retired from your very-well-paid job – just rub me up the wrong way. And I’m especially leery about those perks being given to a generation of MPs, many of whom who oversaw the dismantling of workers’ rights, the destruction of our domestic manufacturing industry, the privatisation of state assets and everything else which has contributed to the rampant and growing inequality we face as a nation.

It’s simply disquieting to be giving people like Jenny Shipley, Rodney Hide, Bill Birch and Roger Douglas an extra $4k to play with – the equivalent of 7 weeks working 40 hours on the minimum wage. Before tax.

And I’ve got to say I’m not too impressed with Annette King’s apparent “it’s just correcting a mistake, my cohort were always meant to be getting more money” defence of the change. Why not just say “It was a mistake – but come on, team, it’s not like we need the money on top of our generous salaries and gold-plated superannuation, is it?”

Our MPs are well-remunerated for their service to the country. I think they should be able to just let this one go.

 

*Yes, I know Idiot/Savant is pseudonymous, not anonymous, but the people who usually attack the blogosphere’s integrity don’t tend to know the difference.

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