Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says, “This is taxpayer funding of political parties by the back door. There is no justification for the biggest ever increase in funding for Parliament and political parties, and especially not for future funding increases locked in without the normal accountability for taxpayers’ money.”“Most insulting is that this funding will disproportionately go toward list MPs, who get an extra $5 million despite not having to carry out basic constituency duties.“This is about Parliamentarians not just having their snout in the public trough, but their trots and all. It massively increases funding for political flunkies and party propaganda.”The Appropriations Review Committee’s report was tabled in Parliament today after being commissioned by Speaker Trevor Mallard last year.Key recommendations in the report include:
- The largest ever increase in parliamentary funding since MMP was introduced, of 20% or $13 million per year for additional staff and resources for MPs (page 49).
- Funding for list MPs increased to be the same as electorate MPs, granting a major financial benefit to the Labour, Green and NZ First parties that are predominantly list parties (page 25).
- Guaranteeing a minimum level of funding for parliamentary parties at 38% for Labour and National and 8% for the Greens and NZ First even if their party vote drops (page 34).
- Providing all Ministerial Offices with an additional staff member for electorate or list MPs, giving Government parties an additional 31 staff (page 27).
- Providing increased funding for large electorates with the bulk of the spending going to the six Maori electorates, making it much harder for any alternative contestant in these seats (page 25)
- Shifting responsibility for policy around ensuring taxpayers funds are not used for electioneering purpose from the Parliamentary Services Commission to the Speaker’s Office. “This means less protection for taxpayers, and means politicians review their own spending,” says Mr Williams.
- Guaranteeing future funding increases of 3.7% per year for staffing and 3.3% for other costs, as well as removing the normal budget accountability process from Parliamentary Services.
“This funding will not enhance our democracy. In fact, it will have the opposite effect, increasing cynicism towards politicians helping themselves to the public purse. Last month, the Prime froze MPs’ pay, saving taxpayers $800,000. Yet this announcement will cost taxpayers more than $13 million every year.” “This is a blatant money grab to make life easier for the current Government and its many list MPs. And by giving list MPs all the same resources as electorate MPs, it removes the incentive for a parties to properly contest electorate seats – a disastrous outcome for local representation.” “Perhaps the most offensive provision in this report is new rules protecting the funding of existing parliamentary parties regardless of their vote share. It means that even if NZ First’s or the Greens’ support falls at the next election, they would continue to be guaranteed eight percent of funding.” “Parliament needs to slap down these self-serving proposals.”