NZ PM blocks own pay rise while PM Lee’s wife shares article explaining why her husband’s salary “so high”

Last year, news emerged that New Zealand (NZ) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern blocked her own pay raise, as recommended by the Remuneration Authority, an independent body in NZ set up to determine the wages of the country’s politicians (‘Jacinda Ardern turns down $12,000 pay rise as NZ government freezes MP pay‘).

PM Ardern decided that NZ politicians are already paid pretty well and said she would introduce a law to block their own pay raise.

She told the media last Aug that a 3 per cent rise that had been recommended by the Remuneration Authority wasn’t “acceptable” and that her cabinet had voted to instead freeze wages and allowances where they were for a year.

PM Ardern’s base salary is about NZ$470,000 (S$417,000). Allowances are awarded on top of the base salary but only for paying “out-of-pocket expenses” related to the job. The wage freeze proposed by PM Ardern would see her miss out on a pay rise of around NZ$14,000.

PM Ardern: We should not be receiving that kind of salary increase

“We do not believe, given that we are on the upper end of the salary scale, that we should be receiving that kind of salary increase,” she said.

“Because we, of course, already are on a high income … One of the things we’ve been trying to bridge as a government is the fact that we see these increases at the top end of the scale, without the same increase at the end of the scale where most New Zealanders sit.”

As the current NZ law keeps politicians from interfering in the pay decision, her government now would want to quickly put through a bill blocking their own pay rise recommended by the NZ Remuneration Authority.

That would give them time to work out a “fairer formula” for how the authority sets the wages in future, PM Ardern said.

PM Lee’s wife shares article explaining why her husband’s salary “so high”

Meanwhile, it was reported that PM Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, Ho Ching, shared an article on her Facebook page last Wed (21 Aug) titled “Why is the salary of Singapore’s Prime Minister so high?”

She wrote, “One big difference is the clean wage system in SG – ie no other perks in kind, while most if not all other countries would have many other perks, like butlers and hairdressers, free flights on national airlines, even family holidays, etc; and quite a number like the USA would include perks after end of term of office.”

The shared article on Seedly attempts to rationalise PM Lee’s yearly S$2.2 million salary by comparing it with the salaries of other leaders, factoring in GDP per capita and the population of each country.

The article also said that while PM Lee earns more than double that of his Hong Kong counterpart, he still earns so much less when compared to some of Singapore’s top CEOs like DBS CEO Piyush Gupta, who earned S$11.9 million in 2018 or the CEOs of CityDev and UOB who earned S$8.9 million respectively.

In any case, the ANZ Bank is currently run by CEO Shayne Elliott, a native New Zealander who was born in Te Atatu South, a suburb of Auckland.

Even though he earns a salary of US$5.8 million a year, you don’t find PM Ardern’s husband complaining publicly about his wife’s paltry salary of NZ$470,000 when compared to ANZ CEO’s, do you?