Dear Editor, once upon a time, I sided with the majority of those who supported the 1998 Commission of Political Review’s recommendation that the number of MPs should be reduced in parliament.
I now think differently on this issue mainly because 1) the politicians will never agree to a reduction, and 2) what I am proposing may solve the issues relating to proportionality in terms of voter numbers in individual constituencies on the main roll e.g. Tamarua on Mangaia (48 voters) vs Tupapa-Maraerenga on Rarotonga (1215 voters).
What I propose will cause
another problem. I will come to that later.
I believe that there should be
more MPs rather than fewer MPs. Much more. Especially on Rarotonga.
Tupapa-Maraerenga should have
three MPs. The other nine constituencies on Rarotonga should have two each.
Mangaia should have two MPs,
as should Atiu. Aitutaki should retain its three. Ma’uke, Miti’aro, Manihiki,
Penrhyn, Rakahanga and Pukapuka should keep their MP. And Palmerston and Nassau
should be able to have their very own MP.
The parliament should then
have 36 MPs – 21 on Rarotonga and 15 on the rest on the islands outside of the
So how are we going to afford
it? That is the six-million-dollar question. Well not quite.
I believe the base annual
salaries of all MPs should be $20,000. What a joke you may say! I feel it is an
even bigger joke when one thinks that current backbench MPs collect $72,000 for
doing next-to-nothing. The checkout operator at Foodland during the working
week probably works five times harder than the average MP and earns around
$20,000 a year.
Some may say that the salary
will not attract the best in our community. With the salary on offer,
people then will think about the reasons about wanting to get into parliament
in the first place. Is it to serve, or to be served?
An elected backbench MP should
be able to keep one’s job – i.e. finish parliament today then back to real work
tomorrow! Those who graduate to the executive should earn a bit more – no more
than $50,000 – and may have to leave their day job.
More MPs in parliament under
this proposal will cost $2 million less in salaries than under the current
system. In fact, it will cost less than what the six cabinet ministers along
with the opposition leader currently earn altogether.
Oh, getting back to the
problem I mentioned earlier on. We will need a bigger parliament building.
Maybe we could save money by seating them altogether on plastic chairs like
they do at public meetings. (They don’t have individual tables/desks in
And just on something else.
Why not make voting at the general elections compulsory?