Rodney Hide betrayed his own supposed principles by using his MP’s travel allowance to fly his girlfriend overseas. He also, with John Key’s consent, used that allowance to bypass Key’s ban on ministers taking their partners flying overseas with taxpayer money. Of course, that was a standard set by Key, not a legal rule. By breaching it, Hide showed himself to be a hypocrite and Key to be weak but that’s a political issue, not a legal one.
Hide has also breached the Cabinet Manual at least twice. His ‘breakfast-gate’ speech (where he told attendees that Key “doesn’t do anything”) purported to be a ministerial speech but was also an ACT fundraiser. He also endorsed a business of which he had been a client.
However, this doesn’t quite get Hide to the level of Bill English. Here was the Deputy Prime Minister, the Finance Minister, changing his personal financial circumstances to take an allowance which was not intended for ministers, like him, who are based in Wellington. The Auditor-General found English was not entitled to the allowance but that he had acted on bad advice. That has always seemed like a very charitable view. English altered the ownership of his family home with the express purpose of claiming nearly $50,000 a year from the taxpayer.
Because of the scale of the rort, because of the fact that English was never entitled to the allowance, because of the intent behind his actions, because of his appalling use of his family as a human sheild for his rorting, because of English’s seniority, and because of the utter hypocrisy of the Minister of Finance who was telling the rest of us to take pay cuts at the same time as he was ripping us over for as much as possible, Bill English is the winner of the first Grabby.
Congratulations, to the people who exposed him.