It is clear the misuse of credit cards by ministers has our parliamentarians on the run but a report out this week accepts the other abuses can no longer be defended and need to change.

The travel perk that has current and former MPs flying first class around the world on holidays is untenable to the voters who are required to pick up the tab.

The original intention for an MP's spouse and young family to have free air travel to stay with an MP in Wellington is right. But insiders know it has been widely abused for unrelated personal and business travel to other parts of New Zealand and overseas.

Hypocritically, it is the right-wing politicians like Roger Douglas and Rodney Hide who cynically preach the joys of personal responsibility and less government but contemptuously send us the bill for their holidays.

But politicians live in a parallel universe in which they see no hypocrisy in telling us to tighten our belts while gorging on the indefensible benefits they award themselves. Most New Zealanders who are paying for these swanky holidays have never had the opportunity to travel abroad and the expectation they foot the bill is beyond grotesque.

To avoid all this public exposure our MPs agreed they were willing to forgo some of their dodgy perks, such as personal air travel or tax free allowances for renting their own properties. It seems the price they are asking us to stump up is a minimum of $50,000 for the three-year term for a backbench MP, and almost twice as much for ministers.

The NZ Herald estimates the suggested 10 per cent increase in their salary, in compensation for losing their travel, is three times more than the price of the perks under consideration.

Have they no shame? They should never have given themselves personal air travel or allowances for their mortgages. They should not only give them back but apologise for allowing themselves to get it in the first place.

There's nowhere in the real world that a group of employees can set unjustifiable privileges then expect to be paid off to give them up.

The argument for MPs and former MPs to have generous overseas travel entitlements until their death is justified on the basis that it rewarded their long service on less than market remuneration. This is nonsense.

Our parliamentarians rank generously compared to other countries. For example, the base salary for New Zealand and Australian backbench MPs is about equal at $131,000, although our allowances are better. Interestingly, while the salaries are similar, the relative minimum wages in NZ dollars is $26,520 here and $36,452 over there - a whopping $200 a week more. That means our MPs are paid five times more than our fulltime minimum wage, while their Australian counterparts are paid three and a half times more.

Another example: our ministers are paid just $40,000 less than US cabinet members even though they more or less run the world and have a population 77 times larger.

Even better for our MPs, almost half of them don't have to win their seats. And even when electorate MPs lose, they get to regain their jobs, via the party list.

Our MPs have a pretty cushy number, with little accountability compared to other countries.

In our country we now have a self-perpetuating political elite with a lifestyle and a sense of entitlement that is alien to the people they purport to represent. The idea that public service is a privilege, not a tenured career with unearned and immoral perks, doesn't seem to occur to them.

Once, an MP's salary was linked to a primary school principal's rate. This was established to allow ordinary citizens to serve in parliament with a modest income linked to their constituents' reality. The earlier parliamentarians who built our democratic institutions wouldn't recognise the greedy, spoiled successors who now sit in their place.

So when our MPs consider their appropriations review report they might like to remember they are servants, not beneficiaries, of the people.