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Unholy silence over MPs’ hypocrisy and greed
by Graeme J. Davidson,
15 August 2009

The Bible doesn’t mention abortion or euthanasia. But it constantly slams the hypocrisy and greed of self-serving leaders and has plenty to say about justice for the poor and vulnerable.

... Every day desperate folk turn up at the church door for help and to stretched food banks for sustenance. So you’d think, from first-hand experience, our Christian leaders would be outraged at how our politicians treat the disadvantaged compared to the generous handouts they give themselves. But we’ve seen hardly a spark of that moral indignation our Christian leaders are so good at fanning into a firestorm over topics like euthanasia and abortion.
... The Bible doesn’t mention abortion or euthanasia. But it constantly slams the hypocrisy and greed of self-serving leaders and has plenty to say about justice for the poor and vulnerable. The prophet Isaiah is typical. He protested how the plight of solo mothers was ignored because their “rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts”.
... The Church has left it to the media, especially The Dominion Post – which deserves full credit for acting the modern prophet – to relentlessly pursue, expose and shame our MPs over their self-indulgence.
... Our MPs have defended their allowances by insisting that under their self-approved rules – and the interpretation of the rules through Parliamentary and Ministerial Services – they are entitled to them. House Speaker Lockwood Smith even argues that longer-serving MPs, like himself, deserve bonus perks like subsided international travel, because of their political experience. Translated, that means he wants you and me to give extra perks to MPs in cushy safe seats and hacks who sit high on party lists.
... MPs often break election promises, yet former MPs are adamant we taxpayers should honour the government’s promise of their travel perks in perpetuity.
... Former MP Michael Laws confessed in his column in the Sunday Star Times (2 Aug) that he was once one of the rorters who accepted that as “an MP, your private interest was always the public interest. And so it is that free airfares, free spousal travel, free taxi chits, accommodation allowances and the like are more effectively hoovered than any beneficiary bludger ever.”
... Commentators argue that if we pay our MPs peanuts we get monkeys. But by giving them truffles, we now have pigs with snouts in the trough.
... Lots of us work long hours, are sometimes separated from our families and face losing our jobs in the same way MPs do. But the vast majority of us do it on much smaller incomes and allowances.
... Few of us would want our out-of-Wellington MPs to live in converted shipping containers dumped on Parliament grounds. We want them to have a reasonable standard of living, which should reflect what other middle to senior level public servants receive. Our MPs are not top CEOs, try as they might to push the comparison. They are public servants voted in to represent and serve us and focus on the public good rather than what they believe they deserve.
... When Contact Energy raised its directors’ fees, the angry public backlash lost the company over 12,000 customers. When our MPs of all shades of political opinion conspire to give themselves generous allowances, we can’t switch to a better legislative supplier. Parliament is a state-run monopoly and whichever party we vote for we will still get MPs with the “I deserve” attitude to perks. So, it’s up to us to keep them honest.
... Why, then, have Christian leaders been so silent on this basic justice issue? Is it to keep in with the political establishment for fear they could miss a grant or a fair hearing on abortion and euthanasia? Or is it because clergy are worried their parishioners might want to make them more accountable for their own work time and allowances for accommodation, books, entertainment and conferences – and the odd overseas business junket and sabbatical that many of their parishioners will never have themselves?
... Whatever the reason, woe unto you fainthearted reverends, very reverends, monsignors, right reverends and most reverends. Don sackcloth and ashes and hang your heads in shame for not crying out against the hypocrisy and greed of our national leaders.



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