The seventh triennial appropriation review committee report tabled in Parliament today goes well beyond the usual brief of considering the resources an MP should have to best undertake their representative activities, National’s Shadow Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee says.
“It can easily be labelled an attempt to further the cause for taxpayer funding of political parties.
“With a proposed $13 million annual increase in Parliamentary support funding for MPs, including 31 extra staff for Ministers, equal funding for List and Electorate MPs, big increases in funding for Māori seats and a locked-in increase of 3.7 per cent per year for staffing, and 3.3 per cent for other costs, this is a massive dip into taxpayer funds with the greatest advantage going to coalition partners Labour, the Greens and NZ First.
“The $13 million per year increase for additional staffing and resources is the biggest yet – a whopping 20 per cent.
“The increase in funding for List MPs to be the same as Electorate MPs has a major financial benefit to the three coalition parties that are predominantly made up of List Members of Parliament.
“It is significant additional taxpayer resources for those Members.
“But perhaps the most concerning aspect is the proposal that regardless of what is delivered at the ballot box, parties are going to have guaranteed levels of funding post the 2020 election.
"Since MMP began in 1996 Parliamentary funding for parties has depended on voter support.
"But this report proposes that post 2020 – regardless of voter support – if parties like NZ First and the Greens make the 5 per cent electoral threshold they will be guaranteed a minimum as if they had achieved an 8 per cent result.
"For Labour and National it's at 38 per cent minimum or the equivalent to their Party vote if greater.
"This proposal is nothing more than an attempt at a massive cash grab by current Government parties.
"The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have pitched themselves as being frugal with the public purse in canning the Parliamentary building and cancelling MP pay rises.
"They need to distance themselves from the recommendations in this report or come clean on their support for more taxpayer funding for political parties.
"National does not support the recommendations and calls on the Speaker to ditch this report and recommence the review with much tighter terms of reference.”