Beehive salaries versus total costs

A narrow and misleading article on ‘rising salaries’ in ministerial offices plus a kneejerk reaction from a supposed Government spending watchdog, Taxpayers’ Union, who was contradicted by one of their founders.

Sunday Star Times have an article on increasing staff salaries in Ministerial offices in the Beehive – More than a third of officials in the Beehive now take home six figure salaries.

Staff working in the Beehive have pocketed healthy pay increases since National took office, with more than a third now earning six figure salaries.

Official figures show that the average salary of Ministerial Services staff working in the offices of Ministers hit $93,298, an increase if more than 5 per cent over 2014.

They chart the increases:


That looks like rampant increases.

Since coming to Government, National has pledged restraint in the public sector.

However a public sector representative questioned whether the same message was being felt by those doing the bidding of National ministers.

Same message – unrestrained increases.

Jordan Williams, executive director of the Taxpayers’ Union said most of the staff in the Beehive were “of a secretarial support” nature.

“It seems extraordinary to us that [they] are remunerating so well, and that the salaries are so top heavy,” Williams said.

“With more than one third of the Beehive support staff earning more than $100,000 it appears being a spin doctor or political advisor is a surefire way to the big bucks without being responsible for the decisions.”

A right wing spending watchdog is also critical.

But David Farrar, who is closely involved with the Taxpayers’ Union, points out at Kiwiblog in Ministerial staff costs:

What I’m interested in, as a taxpayer, is how much more, if any, we are paying for the running of ministerial office. This would have been useful, even vital, information for the story. And it took around 15 minutes to find out from Treasury documents.

The 2015 budget allocated $25.842 million for ministerial support services. In 2008/09 the cost of ministerial support services was $30.375 million. So in fact spending on ministerial offices has dropped 14.9% in seven years. That is what I call restraint.

Also the cost of VIP transport has stayed constant – in fact down 0.1% from 2008/09.

And ministerial travel has gone up just 3.1% over seven years. Well under inflation.

So actually overall, pretty good spending restraint.

So while salaries have risen overall costs of ministerial offices has gone down.

This looks like poor reporting by SST, and the Taxpayers’ Union look likke they have jumped into a kneejerk reaction without considering what should be vital information when comparing cost trends of running Ministerial offices.

Leave a comment


  1. Even worse was the partisan headline for the article about this in Stuff. “Paid to make Nats look good”.

  2. Mike C

     /  17th August 2015

    This is a classic example of how two media organisations with opposing points of view, can manipulate the facts to suit their own agenda’s without actually telling a lie 🙂

  3. The article is garbage. Ministerial staffers work very stressful and ridiculously long hours, and they are considerably underpaid compared to what they’d be earning elsewhere in the public sector.

    • You have our sympathy Goldie, are buzzing around like a beehive boy?….. ; )

    • Dave

       /  17th August 2015

      Disagree with that Goldie, sure, there are bound to be a few Ministerial Staffers who could earn more than in the private sector, but mostly, no way. A lot would not get roles in the private sector as their skill set is too narrow, and the remainder have no real commercial experiance.

      Private sector needs people to perform, and most in high profile roles are doing in excess of 10 hours a day, often travelling on top of that. Very few in Govt travel outside work hours, and most dont know what the private sector classes as performance.

  4. kittycatkin

     /  17th August 2015

    Anyone who thinks that working for Parliament is overpaid has never known any MPs, Ministers or workers in general. I have to disagree with Dave, This is a very political household, and I know how many hours people put in. The PA of one of the Ministers we have known travelled around with him and probably put in far more hours than her private sector counterparts. She loved her job, was very proud to be the PA of such a fascinating and brilliant man and, now that he has retired, will remember those years with delight at being part of them.

    The people who work in and around the Beehive most certainly do travel outside work hours. I’d like to know how many workers anywhere have their commuting time classed as work and paid for.

    If Dave thinks that working for the goverment is big money for little work, including being paid to commute, he’s dreaming.

    • Mike C

       /  17th August 2015


      You have mentioned this subject before, and I think that this is probably true for most Parliamentary workers.

      • When I worked there 10 years ago I managed a team with four staff, had to work horrible hours, tolerated shit, had a high level of responsibility, and was paid FAR less than when I went to work in a government department. Now I work for a private company, and even though it is harder work than in government, it is still much better than working in the Beehive.

  5. rayinnz

     /  17th August 2015

    And it is worth remembering that when the boss falls, so do you

  6. Paid too much, it’s suppose to be a ‘public service’

    It’s okay just throw it on the credit card, the kids can pay it off later

  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  17th August 2015

    Excellent comments above – which show the quality of this blog. Few others would converge on such informed common sense rather than partisan drivel. Same goes for the MSM.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: