It was interesting to see PM Jacinda Adern put a ’freeze’ on politicians getting a pay rise. Indeed why not? Do they deserve a pay rise? A back bencher gets $168,000 salary. That is very good money. Add to the $168,000 various perks in travelling, accommodation and others and its very, very good pay.
Perhaps it is time for a performance assessment on politicians?
An aspect which intrigues me is the shallowness of politicians. When in opposition they cry “foul” of government moves but when some years later they are elected into government they rarely repeal the laws that they were so critical about when on the opposition benches. There is the curious case of the National-led government’s Environment Minister Nick Smith. When Minister for the Environment he championed mega 1080 drops on public lands to annihilate the hordes of prodders that were in numbers of “biblical proportions.” Where he got the biblical concern from is anyone’s guess. A friend, who knows the Bible backwards, told me nowhere does the revered book refer to rats.
But Nicolas Rex Smith bellowed in evangelical style, often shrill and strident in manner, that 1080 was the answer to the predator threat he imagined. He railed against those who dared to say New Zealand’s rivers were contaminated with nitrates and were being denuded of flow.
However since the election Smith has been silent.
There are other politicians who one never hears of until their name surfaces for one reason or another.
The culture surrounding politicians is wrong and we the plebiscite are partly to blame. We should hold them o account more. Remind they when they snarl back, that politicians whether in parliament or on regional and district councils, are elected by the people to serve the public interest.
It is incorrect to call the prime minister the country’s “leader”. John Key for example was just the most senior public servant in the land. The mayor of a regional council is the region’s most senior public servant.
Relative to the MP pay freeze is the misconception about politicians that “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.” We are paying politicians very good money in and especially with MPs, lucrative perks. As one writer on the subject said "Yet too often the public’s reward for paying chocolate coated peanuts in glossy wrappings is not monkeys but political gorillas wearing an air of arrogance and disdain for the opinion of the public who they are meant to represent."
Excuse my cynicism but we the people pay politicians handsomely.
If politicians are paid handsomely most will be the greedy, seeing very good money, rather than those wanting to give service to the public. We need politicians who understand their role as public servants.
But today too many politicians lack an awareness of the fundamental role of an elected representative. The role is to represent the wishes of the majority of the community. Whether they like it or not, prime ministers, cabinet ministers, back benchers and local councillors are undeniably, public servants.
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