Of the 100 people who took part in the independent political poll run this week, 78 per cent said they would not vote for the MPs who will award themselves a 45 per cent pay rise. Fifteen per cent voted “don’t know” while seven per cent supported MPs who are willing to increase their pay.
A 37-year-old female from Rarotonga was sceptical of the pay rise issue, saying “they (the MPs) don’t deserve it”.
A Mitiaro man, aged 66, who is not supporting the proposed pay rise, said “I don’t agree to a pay rise for MPs unless the same increase is given to public servants”.
Some respondents said they would only support a pay rise for Cultural Development and Prison Services minister George “Maggie” Angene.
“Yes, only if it’s George Maggie. He is the only MP we see doing some work,” said a 28-year old male Cook Islander.
A 33-year-old female said: “Only George Maggie deserves the pay rise. He is my MP and I will always vote for him”.
Late last month, Cook Islanders here and abroad took to social media to vent their frustration on the proposed MPs pay rise. Many compared the MP base rate of $50,000 to the less than $16,000 a worker would earn a year for a 40-hour week.
Some also raised the issue of how long Parliament sat each year, with the most recent session lasting three half-days.
One respondent on the CI News Facebook page said: “(They) should only be paid when Parliament sits, rest of the time get a real job!!!”
Another added: “Should only be paid when sitting in Parliament!! Otherwise get your own job outside!”
A third said: “With the first Parliament sitting only in April, I believe a decrease in pay - or termination of some allowances - would be better suited.”
“That is ridiculous ... their salaries should start at $20k and then bonuses and rewards if the Cook Islands per capital income rises ... else forget about it ... but they won’t because they’re greedy politicians lining their own pockets,” another noted.
The MP pay rise issue was first raised by deputy prime minister Mark Brown in Parliament last month.
Brown earlier said he believed the remuneration of MPs needed to be upgraded.
The finance minister said after 14 years Parliament was going through a review of MP remuneration and allowances to be conducted by the Remuneration Tribunal.
The Opposition Democratic Party claimed the government proposes to increase MPs’ pay by 45 per cent.
However, Democratic Party leader Tina Browne said any increase in pay should be matched by an increase in Parliament sitting days.
According to the Civil List Act 2005, the prime minister gets an annual salary of $105,000 while the deputy prime minister receives $95,000.
Cabinet ministers, the Speaker of Parliament and the Leader of the Opposition receive $85,000 each.
The Deputy Opposition leader, Leader of the House, Whips and associate ministers each receive $50,000 salary and $5000 allowance. The other MPs are paid $50,000 each per annum.
All MPs receive some housing allowances and a clothing allowance of $5000 per parliamentary term. The clothing allowance is to enable them to purchase appropriate attire for all sittings of Parliament including select committee meetings.