Taxpayers are contributing nearly $1000 a week to allow deputy prime minister Bill English to live in his own million-dollar Wellington home.
According to the title, the Karori home was bought by Mr English and his wife, Mary, for $800,000 in 2003. However, in March this year the title was transferred to Mrs English alone.
Mary English is a GP in Wellington, their kids go to school there, Bill spends most of his time there. The house in Karori is, in reality, his primary home. Yet he is claiming $1000 a week to live there from the Wellington accommodation allowance. That allowance is meant to compensate non-Wellington-based ministers for the costs of accommodation in the city arising from the need to be there for their work. The Englishes own their Karori home regardless.
National is claiming that it’s not a breach of the rules. Even if that’s the case, it’s clearly a rort and clearly unethical. The movement of ownership out of his name has obviously been done to facilitate the rort.
In 2000, Marian Hobbs and Phillida Bunkle lost their ministerial warrants for a similar rort of the Wellington accommodation allowance. The expenses scandal that has shaken the UK Parliament and seen a number of resignations has also centred around MPs rorting the system around housing allowances.
English doesn’t see anything wrong in his behaviour. Key, no doubt, will be ‘relaxed’.
Once again, we see the Key Government has one rule for themselves and another for the rest of us. At a time when they’re demanding the public accept cutbacks in services, attacking solo mums raising their kids on low incomes while trying to get off the benefit, and joking that there’s no pixie dust to help unemployed they’ve got their noses planted firmly in the public trough themselves.
As dodgy behaviour from minister after minister comes to light, this Key government is rapidly gaining a reputation for corruption and sleaze.