Thursday 02 Jul 2020 | 23:02 | SYDNEY
Thursday 02 Jul 2020 | 23:02 | SYDNEY

Paying for our diplomatic baubles


Sam Roggeveen


4 December 2008 10:34

To return to an old hobby horse of mine, it is safe to assume that the Remuneration Tribunal's recommendation that MPs receive a $100,000 pay rise will not be implemented by the Government. The 'if you pay peanuts, you'll get monkeys' principle is a sound one, but it is clearly politically impossible to sell such a pay increase, even in the best of economic times.

The same goes for various worthy but unpopular areas of government spending that would improve our international image and diplomacy. Three that come to mind are the acquisition of adequate VIP aircraft, improving MP travel provisions, and the refurbishment and extension of the Prime Minister's official residence, The Lodge, so it can more adequately host foreign dignitaries.

But it seems to me the solution in all cases is straightforward — you can pay for these necessary but unpopular items by ensuring that current office-holders receive no benefit from them. When it comes to MP pay and travel conditions, insert a clause in the regulation so that the higher rates will only take effect when each seat changes hands to a new MP. As for the jets and the Lodge, simply set the money aside now but stick it in a fund and promise not to spend it for a decade.

This doesn't just get around the political problem of politicians seemingly feathering their own nests, it could actually be a political plus. An announcement along these lines from the PM would look positively statesman-like and selfless.