Since they took office, John Key’s National government have been putting our public services under the blowtorch. Most public servants have been refused pay increases and thousands have lost their jobs. But it seems not all spending of taxpayer money is subject to the same level of scrutiny and restraint.
Since National came to power the number of Beehive staff earning over $100,000 a year has more than doubled. Under Helen Clark’s leadership there was only one Beehive staffer who earned over $150,000 a year. John Key seems to think he needs at least 10 of them.
It seems different rules also apply when it comes to pay increases within the Beehive. Questions I asked of Key earlier this year revealed that a number of Beehive staff had been given pay rises, but he refused to release any further information on how big the pay rises were. I asked him again recently and here is his answer:
“I am advised that a small number of ministerial office staff received pay increases, primarily as the result of promotion to new roles in the period 9 February to 5 August 2010. I am not prepared to release specific details about the individual increases.”
Why not? I haven’t asked for any information that would identify individual staff members. All I’ve asked for is information on the scale of the increases and the number of staff who are getting them. National is telling hard-working Kiwis they aren’t allowed pay rises, why should their hired helpers get different treatment?
At a time when many New Zealanders are struggling to pay for the basics like electricity and food, they will find Key’s refusal to front up, justify and explain why he thinks his own staff should be subject to different standards pretty disappointing.