Constraining public sector pay is the real objective of the MP pay Bill

The real objective of the Remuneration Authority Amendment Bill is to use the public backlash against MPs’ pay rises to constrain the pay of public sector workers, the Green Party said today.

“It became clear in the debate over this rushed law change last night that the Government’s objective is to constrain salaries across the whole public sector,” Green Party open government spokesperson James Shaw said.

“Minister Michael Woodhouse said that the Bill would ‘shine a light on profligate spending increases by irresponsible Governments’ and criticised ‘out of control’ public sector salary growth. He’s created a political incentive to keep public sector wages low, because allowing them to rise would also create pay rises for MPs, and that would be unpopular with the public.

“A future government that wanted to pay nurses, teachers, and police officers more could face allegations that it was only raising public sector salaries so that MPs’ salaries would also increase.

“When the backlash against MPs’ pay rises began a few weeks ago, the Government saw a window of opportunity to rush a new law through Parliament that would link the pay of MPs and public sector workers, making one a tool to control the other.

“The Government said this was about constraining MPs’ pay, but it looks like the real aim is to limit pay rises for teachers, nurses, police officers, civil servants, and other public sector workers.

“The Green Party wants meaningful and transparent limits on MPs’ salaries, not arbitrary and perverse incentives to keep pay low for nurses and teachers.

“The Green Party’s policy of linking MPs’ base salary movements to movements in the nominal median income would fix this problem,” Mr Shaw said.