"Chris Hipkins needs to stay in his lane": PSA criticises minister over parliament funding comments
14 Sep 2018
Proper funding for parliamentary offices, including the Opposition, is a central part of our democracy, and Ministers cannot just dismiss it out of hand, the PSA says.
Leader of the House Chris Hipkins dismissed the latest Appropriations Review Committee report as "dead in the water" after the Opposition criticised its recommendations.
"The PSA is disappointed to hear such a knee-jerk reaction to this criticism from Minister Hipkins," PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.
"The whole exchange between the Minister and the honourable Nick Smith MP needlessly politicised a process that should be independent.
"The decision on whether to accept or reject the report’s recommendations does not lie with the Minister; it’s the Speaker’s decision, after progressing through a proper process.
"He needs to stay in his lane, in other words.
"One could argue his comments show precisely why these decisions should not be at a Minister’s discretion."
The report considers how well parliament represents New Zealanders, and concludes these decisions should be independent.
It also echoes the PSA’s concerns about inequities between political staff and support staff - and how Out Of Parliament offices are funded.
"Some of the report’s recommendations will go some way towards improving our members’ working conditions, particularly around job security and safety at work," Mr Barclay says.
"But there are broader considerations too - for example, how a properly-resourced Opposition is vital to our democracy because of its role in scrutinising the Government and providing alternatives.
"We are disappointed at the flippancy with which Minister Hipkins has dismissed this report - and trust that it will now go through a proper process.
"Our members - and, indeed, the whole of New Zealand - deserve better."