The Government is being accused of "throwing away the rule book" over the amount being paid to members of a panel set up to monitor the Christchurch quake body.
Pay has been set at $1000 a day for the independent panel's three members: Former National Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley, Anake Goodall and Murray Sherwin.
Official Information Act papers - which have been published online - also reveal that the pay for the panel's convenor, Sir John William Hansen, has been set at $1400 a day.
The panel members' pay is included in the confidential documents sent from Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee to the Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee.
However, the fees for the panel members and convenor - who Brownlee nominated for the appointments - are more than double those determined as appropriate by the State Services Commission.
Under the Cabinet Fees Framework the fee for the chairperson of such a body should range from $360 to $655, while for a member it should range from $270 to $415.
In the documents, Brownlee said the "calibre" of the panel's members was the reason for the fee difference, but Labour Earthquake Recovery Spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove says it is "very odd".
"It's not about those who are on the panel, it's about Gerry Brownlee throwing away the rule book, paying $1000 a day to his mates," Cosgrove said.
Cosgrove said the panel would have only a limited amount of work to do.
He said Brownlee has "war time powers" which can't be challenged in court, and he needs to be accountable.
Brownlee would not talk to ONE News on camera but issued a statement saying "exceptional times" require "exceptional measures" and panel members will be subject to a high degree of public scrutiny in their roles.
'It's a disgrace'
A number of comments on tvnz.co.nz's messageboard said the pay rate for panel members was "a disgrace" and "outrageous".
Alicia1975 said: "We have people struggling to meet the costs of day to day living in general, not to mention those affected badly by not one but multiple quakes ....wake up if you can't see this is a complete misuse of funds."
Even National voters were unhappy.
Norman Donald said: "I'm a National supporter through and through but this kind of appointment is ridiculous and I fear the party might be sorry they decided on such pay rates. These people are not worth this kind of money."
But some said you have to pay a high price to get the job done right.
"Can't understand where the SSC thought they would get professional people with the qualifications and expertise to assess legislative and regulatory changes to brand new legislation for $500/day ... they're dreaming!" said '1336859'.
What panel members do
The panel's role is to assess all legislative and regulatory changes under the new Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act (Cera).
Cera is the agency established by the Government to lead and coordinate the ongoing recovery effort in Canterbury following the September and February quakes.
Shipley and Hansen have been appointed for three years to the panel and Goodall and Sherwin for two years.
The number of days they will be required to work is unclear, however Sir John Hansen told ONE News this afternoon that so far he had worked "hours" rather than days and had not put in an invoice.
He said when he was asked to be on the panel he didn't ask what the remuneration was as he believed the job was "an important public service".
Hansen said the amount of work being done is likely to increase from hours to days over the coming months.
Brownlee wrote in documents, dated April 11, the amount of time the job would take "may become clearer over time as the recovery effort progresses".
Who are the panel members?
- Sir John Hansen was a High Court Judge from 1995 to 2008 and is the current chair of the Red Cross Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Commission.
- Jenny Shipley was Prime Minister from 1997-99 and a Member of Parliament for the Canterbury seat of Rakaia from 1987 to 2002
- Anake Goodall is the former chief executive of Te Runanga O Ngai Tahu and has extensive experience in the community and iwi development sectors.
- Murray Sherwin was the chair of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Commission, which was disestablished by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.
Fair for the job they're doing? Have your say on the messageboard below.