2 Jun 2009

MPs' expenses could be made public

8:00 pm on 2 June 2009

Prime Minister John Key wants a cross-party committee set up to look at whether MPs' expense claims should be opened up to the public.

The move follows controversy in the United Kingdom over expenses claimed by members of parliament there.

Mr Key says that controversy has focused attention on how the system is operating in New Zealand.

He says he will make a recommendation to the Speaker of the House that a committee comprised of MPs from each political party be established.

Mr Key says he personally favours a more open system, but believes there is a need for some discretion.

However, he says New Zealand MPs, unlike their British counterparts, are pretty much restricted to claiming for domestic air travel, taxi chits and accommodation.

Labour, Greens support proposal

The Labour and Green parties support the proposal for a cross-party committee.

Labour leader Phil Goff says his party is happy to take part in the committee but says the rules for expense claims are already clear and there is no room for rorting the system.

The Green Party has already said it will release details of its MPs' expenses claims this week and is urging other political parties to do the same.

The Greens say taxi chits, flights, accommodation and car hire costs will be included in their inventory.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says transparency in Government is important and the public has a right to know how its money is being used.

She told Morning Report that any move such as compulsory disclosure would include changes to Parliamentary Services, which administers funding for MPs.

Hide sceptical

ACT Party leader Rodney Hide is sceptical about the need for a cross-party committee.

Mr Hide has indicated his party would take part in the committee, but says it would be better if Parliamentary Services was opened up to the Official Information Act.

Mr Hide says the act would provide transparency while protecting personal information, such as phone records.