ACT leader David Seymour proposes changing parliamentary calendar to help climate, reduce spending

ACT leader David Seymour.
ACT leader David Seymour. Photo credit: File

ACT leader David Seymour is proposing changing the parliamentary calendar to reduce the number of flights MPs take to Wellington to help the climate and reduce spending. 

MPs attend Parliament throughout the year based on a calendar that determines which weeks require them to be in Wellington and which weeks they can stay in their electorates. 

When MPs travel to Wellington to attend Parliament, they spend three days - Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday - in the debating chamber, and often fly back to their electorates on Friday. 

Seymour wants to change that so MPs spend four days in Wellington for 23 weeks a year, instead of three days a week for 30 weeks, to reduce the number of flights taken by MPs by about 25 percent. 

"MPs can take one simple, costless action to help the climate and the taxpayer," Seymour said on Tuesday. "Politicians spend a lot of time talking about climate change. We are asking them to act by pledging to help the planet and cutting flights to Wellington by 25 percent."

He said instead of "preaching about the planet", politicians should lead by example when it comes to addressing climate change by "committing to individual action" that will have "measurable" benefits. 

"Parliament has talked about putting solar panels on the roof and turning the Beehive green, but these changes make little difference when MPs fly en masse into Wellington 30 times a year," Seymour said. 

"Almost no other group of New Zealanders has an unlimited air travel budget. Ironically, it's often the politicians who talk about climate change the most who report the biggest air travel expenses each quarter.

"Parliamentarians could take one simple and costless action to help the climate and save the taxpayer significant money."

Seymour said it could also help MPs with their work-life balance. 

"There has been much discussion in recent times about work-life balance and pressures on MPs' families. Spending fewer weeks, but the same number of days, in Wellington, and less time travelling, would reduce the time pressure on MPs, leaving more time to be productive at work and home."