11 Feb 2009

MPs back salary-freeze proposal

2:46 pm on 11 February 2009

Parliament on Tuesday unanimously backed a Green Party call for a one-year freeze on MPs' salaries.

Their pay is set annually by the Remuneration Authority.

Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons asked MPs to support the freeze in light of the recession.

The Green Party motion was originally for three years, but was reduced to one year in order to secure the support of the National Party.

Ms Fitzsimons asked MPs to support a submission to the authority asking it to refrain from raising salaries in 2009 in light of the current economic climate.

Prime Minister John Key says the Government is not seeking to influence the Remuneration Authority, but rather wants to send a strong message about MPs' pay.

The Labour Party says the Government should change the law, rather than pass a resolution, if it is serious about the matter.

Leader Phil Goff says MPs need to show leadership and restraint over pay, but believes a law change requiring the authority to take economic conditions into account would be a better way to deal with the question.

Governor-General Anand Satyanand has joined MPs in asking the with the Remuneration Authority not to raise his $187,000 salary.

Remuneration Authority chairperson David Oughton says the MPs' vote will be considered during the review process later this year.

However, data on MPs' allowances, as well as changes to wages and the consumer price index, will also be taken into account, he says.

Mr Oughton says the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House, and the members' services committee are also invited to make submissions to the authority.

The Remuneration Authority last increased MPs' salaries in November, by 4.8%.

Prime Minister John Key's annual salary stands at $393,000, Cabinet ministers and Labour leader Phil Goff receive close to $244,00, while backbench MPs receive $131,000.