There’s never a good moment for any increase in remuneration for MPs, but in the midst of an economic crisis is probably the worst timing possible.

Bumping up MPs’ electoral allowances doesn’t even have the rationale of ending the steady slide in the attractiveness of the job of representing voters, which can at least be argued for pay rises. It only serves the public perception — almost invariably wrong — that politicians are merely in the job for the money. Indeed, there may be a strong case for significantly reducing MPs’ electoral allowances given they are primarily directed toward political, rather than representative and genuine communication, activities.

In the lead-up to a budget that should — and very likely will — cause significant financial pain, MPs, however much they dislike it and however unfair it is, will have to accept that they too must visibly share voters’ pain. After all, as Kevin Rudd has said so often, we’re all in this together.

Peter Fray

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