23 Oct 2013

Politicians back Speaker's control of travel perks

7:23 am on 23 October 2013

MPs have defended the move to let the Speaker of Parliament keep control of their travel entitlements rather than transferring that control to an independent body.

A bill giving more oversight of MPs' perks and allowances to the Remuneration Authority has passed its second reading in Parliament.

The bill grants the authority control over accomodation entitlements for MPs and travel perks for MPs' family members.

However, that control does not stretch as far as the MPs' own travel perks, which allow them unlimited free travel within New Zealand.

The chairperson of the select committee that considered the bill, Labour Party MP Ruth Dyson, says that responsibility will remain with the Speaker.

She says free travel is not a perk, but a fundamental and necessary part of MPs' jobs.

The Green Party voted for the bill, but would prefer if MPs' travel also came under the Remuneration Authority's control.

The bill also introduces tougher financial penalties for MPs who do not turn up to Parliament without a good reason.