Every year the Remuneration Authority, an independent body, reviews the pay of MPs. It sets the salaries without needing approval by Parliament or Cabinet, to keep the process from being politicised. Every year, our ever mature media gleefully portrays this process as politicians giving themselves a huge pay rise.
What if, instead, MPs pay increases were automatic and the same amount as the median income increase? The pay and annual increase methodology would be contained in legislation, so would not require annual approval. Any suggestion of impropriety would be eliminated and our journalists could get on with investigating real stories.
There could be another benefit too. Our current senior Ministers, who live relatively simple private lives, are not in it for the money but those with a background where income equals success and self-worth, and who live more extravagant lifestyles, may be more concerned with the level of their pay increases. Linking their pay to the median income would incentivise them to seek higher incomes for all New Zealanders. It may even help dissuade these politicians from pursuing their policy of seeing ordinary kiwis’ wages drop.