Not for the first time, Alf is seriously pissed off with a Parliamentary Press Gallery hack who has seen fit to draw attention to MPs’ pay packets and perks.
It was not done directly by naming Alf.
It was done, nevertheless, by drawing attention to the salaries and perks of some fellow back-benchers. The good citizens of Eketahuna North are a bright bunch, quite capable of working out – roughly – the going rate for their local member.
Next bloody thing you know they will be asking him to do the shouting, either in the pub or at the Eketahuna Club, because obviously he is paid much too much and can afford it .
The point of the story was snide enough, regardless of the mischief it has done to Alf by alerting his constituents to the sum he slurps from the public trough.
It was clearly intended to further embarrass Crusher Collins and Maurice Williamson by reminding the public of the magnitude of their fall from grace.
The hack in question was one Hamish Rutherford, who does his scribbling and mischief-making for the Fairfax mob.
He has written:
Two former National ministers have gone right to the back of the class, among just four in the 60 strong caucus earning the basic MP’s salary.
Following the first week of Parliament, 56 of National’s MPs have been made either ministers, whips, speakers, chairs or deputy chairs of select committees.
All of those roles come with additional pay, from the $4600 extra paid to select committee deputy chairs, to the extra $280,700 paid to Prime Minister John Key.
But Judith Collins and Maurice Williamson, who were both ministers earlier this year, now earn the basic MP’s salary of $147,800, along with newcomers Parmjeet Parmar and Todd Barclay, 24.
Having thus stuck the knife in, Rutherford gives it a nasty twist by noting that:
Barclay, the baby of the House, was not born until Williamson had been an MP for almost three years. When Barclay joined Bill English’s office as a junior official, Judith Collins was Police Minister.
Then Rutherford draws attention to a matter of money that really sticks in Alf’s craw:
Three of the four MPs from the Maori Party, ACT and UnitedFuture which support the Government earn more as leaders and ministers, while Marama Fox, the new Maori Party MP, will soon be earning more when she is confirmed as party co-leader.
So this Fox female makes it into Parliament on the bloody party list and becomes co-leader – with a bigger pay packet to boot – simply because the buggers could only muster two MPs.
Of course, this examination of who is paid what allows Rutherford to revisit Collins’ downfall and remind us she has been…
stripped of her ministerial portfolios, which gave her on-call access to a Crown limousine, when an email emerged claiming she was linked to a campaign to undermine former Serious Fraud Office boss Adam Feeley at a time she was police minister.
Collins, whose house was reportedly passed in at auction this week, declined to comment, but has vowed to return as a minister after she is cleared by an inquiry.
Dunno what the fate of her house has got to do with anything.
Prime Minister John Key has said a return to Cabinet is not imminent whatever the result of the inquiry.
Then it’s Williamson’s turn:
Williamson was stripped from his role as a minister outside of Cabinet when it emerged that he called police questioning an investigation into a Chinese businessman with close ties to the National Party. He did not respond to requests for comment.
Days after being sacked as a minister in May, the MP for Pakuranga said it was “prejudicial” to assume he would not return as a minister.
Demotion is one thing.
Demotion to the very bottom rung is another.
We are given an answer, of sorts:
Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee denied the lack of position reflected that the former ministers were among the lowest ranked in the caucus. “It’s not very respectful to turn around to somebody who’s been a minister . . . and say ‘hey we’d like you to be a chair on a select committee’.”
The article finishes by again apprising Alf’s constituents of his income and perks.
As well as our salaries, it points out, we MPs get a number of allowances, including free domestic travel and an expenses allowance of at least $16,300, to be spent on anything.
Anything, of course, includes shouts in the pub or the club.
They will be lined up for their whack as soon as Alf steps through the door.