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Key Promises Changes To Housing Allowances

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Key
John Key

Wellington, Aug 10 NZPA - The review of ministerial housing allowances will lead to changes, Prime Minister John Key says.

Mr Key ordered the review after details of the allowances and other expenses claimed by MPs were released on June 30, and since then there has been an uproar over the amounts claimed.

Mr Key said today the controversy was because there had not been transparency in the past.

"We've opened the cloak a little bit and people have had a peek through," he said on TV One's Breakfast programme.

"In isolation, they're seeing some things and saying `wow, that doesn't make sense' and it doesn't tally with their normal daily lives.

"But MPs run a very different life, they really do. They're trying to establish a life in Wellington."

Mr Key said the rules were "an arcane bunch" that had been put together to reflect circumstances at certain times.

"Travel discounts, which seem a bit weird in certain areas, were there because people didn't get pay rises," he said.

"I think travel to and from an electorate to Wellington no one is arguing about, but why do they get discounts on overseas travel? That was because they didn't get a pay rise at the time."

Mr Key said the review, due to report by the end of the month, would deal with housing allowances and possibly other areas.

"The review will lead to changes," he said.

"The (playing) field will change."

Parliament's Speaker, Lockwood Smith yesterday defended MPs' allowances saying new members got the same pay as those, like himself, with many years experience.

Dr Smith said perks such as subsidised private international travel recognised long service.

"The one privilege members get after years of service is that travel subsidy and I think actually they deserve it," he said.

MPs get pay rises most years and Dr Smith said increasing salaries "considerably" to compare with company bosses might partly solve the concerns about allowances.

Dr Smith was being interviewed on TV One's Q&A programme by Paul Holmes and the exchange became tense at times with the Speaker suggesting the veteran broadcaster stand for Parliament to see how hard it was.

He also said Holmes probably earned more than MPs.

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