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Bill vs Greens

Written By: - Date published: 10:09 am, October 5th, 2009 - 55 comments
Categories: bill english, corruption, greens - Tags:

I love that, after studiously ignoring Bill English’s housing rort, Farrar’s now got unending questions for the Greens. Pretty desperate stuff too – ‘sure, you paid the money back of your own accord after you yourselves discovered you had over-claimed but why did it take so long? huh?! huh?!’.

Hilariously, he claims that the superannuation fund owning the houses and renting them to three MPs maximises the amount claimed because the rent would exceed the mortgage payments that could be claimed if the MPs owned the properties directly. Umm, most rents are negatively geared these days, David – mortgage payments are more than the rent.

Anyway, the MPs are only temporary tenants of that properties that will be owned in the interests of a larger group of MPs for a long period. If an MP bought a property, put it in a trust and rented it themselves from the trust at more than market rates, that would be a rort – that’s not what the Greens do.

The Greens made a simple bookkeeping mistake which they corrected when they discovered it.

Bill English, in contrast, claimed an allowance he wasn’t entitled to. Bill’s not in trouble because of perception. He’s in trouble for unrepentantly and intentionally ripping us off by lying about where his primary place of residence is so he could get money that wasn’t for him.

It would be nice if we could try to apply the same standards here. The tests, I think, should be:

  • was money taken against the intent of the rules?
  • was the money taken intentionally? Did the person purposely change their set-up to exploit a loophole?
  • does the person believe they acted wrongly? did they try to correct it themselves or only under pressure?

Basically, did they do wrong, did they mean to do wrong, do they admit they did wrong, and did they try to fix it? It’s quite clear that English fails on all these points and the Greens do not.

55 comments on “Bill vs Greens ”

  1. Gee this communal ownership of assets with the intent that the movement will gain a long term advantage … sounds … like … SOCIALISM!

    No wonder Farrar is so upset.

    I agree there is absolutely no story here. Not that this will stop the right wing beating it up as much as they can.

    • Tigger 1.1

      It’s a nice distraction for the right but it has no legs. I mean, come on! No one even claimed any extra cleaning money for cleaning their family home. That’s the true genius of what English did – it’s so blatant as to look like farce. The Greens mistake comes nowhere near that. Try again Mr Farrar.

      That said, maybe John Key speeding so he could wash under his arms might throw the press off the Dipton scent…

  2. Craig Glen Eden 2

    It got Espiner all excited, poor little right wing lap dog that he is.

  3. Tim Ellis 3

    I love that, after studiously ignoring Bill English’s housing rort, Farrar’s now got unending questions for the Greens

    Do you actually fact check before you write these posts Marty? Mr Farrar has written many posts on MPs expenses, with no less than half a dozen directly dealing with Mr English’s situation. So your premise falls flat pretty quickly.

    • snoozer 3.1

      the guy wrotes half a dozen posts about boobs a day. six in three months about housing allowances – most of which are bland defences of English and certainly don’t employ the kind of probing technique he is against the Greens – is ignoring the issue.

  4. HitchensFan 4

    “the guy wrotes half a dozen posts about boobs a day”

    LOL – yeah what IS that about? I’ve noticed that too. So creepy….

  5. Tom 5

    I think you miss the real issue here. The Greens’ super trust, as I understand it, was set up for the express purpose of maximising the taxpayer accommodation subsidy into the scheme. Someone needs to go back over the rent arrangements since the scheme was established to determine whether the same rort, sorry honest mistake, has happened in the past and if so, will that money be ‘paid back’ too? How far does their sanctimonious transparency extend?

    • Maynard J 5.1

      If it was set up to maximise money then they would charge well above market rates for as long as they could get away with it. Instead they charge below market value. I am sure that is ‘the real issue’ in your mind, but then you could just as well have ‘real friends’ that are equally imaginary to everyone else. You should at least to make an attempt at justifying why this is ‘the real issue’

      • Tim Ellis 5.1.1

        Nice spin Maynard J. If they owned the properties in their own names, they would only be able to claim an allowance for the interest cost on the mortgage, not the rental equivalent. The interest cost on the mortgage is about half the rental equivalent. The structure was specifically established so that the Greens could maximise their entitlements.

        • Maynard J

          If only your aunt had balls, Tim, she would be your uncle. They do not own them in their own names, they do not in fact own them at all.

    • snoozer 5.2

      Tom. How does the fund maximise the amount they can get? As Marty says, if they wanted to maximise how much they could get, they would buy in their own names, not rent from the fund.

      Tom, I would support the Greens opening the Fund’s books. Will you supoprt English opening up his trust details?

      oh and “as I understand it”, you mean ‘as Farrar told me’, eh?

      • Tom 5.2.1

        As Tim points out, the super fund allows the Green MPs to ‘rent’ the property from themselves, effectively. What needs to be made clear is that if they were paying $1000 a week for a $600 a week house, how long has the over-market ‘rental rort been going on? What about their other properties? Will they release the market rent assessments for each property and the actual rent paid, going back to the establishment of the fund?

        • felix

          I certainly hope they do.

          Then you can demand that Bill English release his records too, eh?

        • lprent

          At this point I’d be interested in seeing that for all MP’s going back for a while… I want to know how long Bill has been ripping off the taxpayers.

        • snoozer

          Tom. I’m fine with that. Are you fine with English opening up his trust?

          Remember, no double standards

          • Gordon Shumway

            Greens structured their affairs to maximise the personal financial gain of Green MPs. No matter how you spin it, it’s essentially what you’ve all been going after English for.

            Just like English looks greedy and mean-spirited for the double-Dipton structure, so too do the Greens for the superannuation structure and charge-twice “mistake”.

            My view is that neither the Greens nor English are “corrupt”, but the rules clearly need to be re-written because MPs (of all stripes) have proved that when faced with a choice between personal and public interest, they cannot be trusted to make the right call.

            • Tim Ellis

              To be fair to the Greens Mr Shumway, it appears that Mr Goff was doing likewise with his Wellington apartment.

              • lprent

                Not exactly.
                Phil’s family was in Auckland.
                Catherine Delahunty’s family doesn’t live in Wellington.
                nor does Jeanettes.

                Meanwhile Bill English is sucking off the taxpayer teat for his family to live in Wellington. Doesn’t look to me to be the same thing.

                But then we know that you have problem with little details like that (auditor sounds more like bullshit each time you write such stupid comments)

                • Tim Ellis

                  It is known LP that a very senior Labour Minister had a child living with them in Wellington LP. What’s your point?

                  • lprent

                    TE: There are these usual little issues with details. Were they living there or crashing there? Were they paying part of the rent?

                    I had my partners mother in a spare bed over the weekend. Rocky and numerous young relatives have been known to crash on my couch…. details, details make the story. Not just some random bullshit.

                    If you just want to insinuate, then do so. However expect that I and others will keep calling you on the crap that you sprout.

                    And TE: Notice that you now have a person with a actual name calling you a bullshit artist. I’ve heard your stories and at this point after reading some of your bull for a while, I simply don’t believe it. Hell, I’m not even convinced that is your real name.

                    • Tim Ellis

                      Yes LP I expected at some point you would turn feral when you couldn’t mount rational arguments and it is consistent with your MO to attack the person rather than the issue. Any pretence you had of running a place with more integrity or less abuse than Mr Farrar’s site flew out the window I’m afraid.

                    • Maynard J []

                      You state a lot of things as fact that reality dictates otherwise. You say you are using your name when it is unverifiable, your other lies and distortions make the statement that it is your name very unlikely, and this means nothing anyway, yet you rail against others’ personal choice for anonymity, and then have the gall to say that Labour party activists post anonymously here. Where do you get off making judgements as to other people’s allegiances and ideals?

                      You can be entirely uncivil while using nice words, but it also appears you can be so blind as to believe no one else can see through it. I would pity you but I know it is feigned.

                    • lprent []

                      Probably only to you… What I’m asking you to explain is reasonable. I’d have to assume that because you’re unwilling to deal with the issues I’m raising on your comments that you are simply incapable or unwilling to discuss them.

                      There really aren’t that many “Tim Ellis” or variation of it in the country. You’ve been making a big thing about people ‘hiding’ behind pseudonyms. But I really can’t see any evidence that “Tim Ellis” exists. If you want to run that line, then surely you’d be prepared to prove it? Or get someone known to vouch for you?

                      After-all, you’re the one making a big thing out of it….

                    • cracked []

                      I googled Tim some time ago as I thought he must be either a psych student engaging in research on blog behaviour, a lefty troll posing as a righty troll or just a piss take. But thought that he might be this chap –


                      only he/she knows who he/she is though…. and do you really care, anything you read or post on blogs should be taken with a grain of salt and a bit of a laugh anyway, I doubt most peoples blog persona has much to do with what they’re like over a cuppa face to face.

                    • lprent []

                      That was really my point. Apart from lawyers seeking a quick buck in fees, who cares about pseudonyms or real names. It is totally meaningless because what you look at is the value of peoples opinions. That usually becomes clear when they are challenged. TE has a problem with that process.

                    • felix []


                      He’s said before that that isn’t him. Who knows though, it’s not like he’s a reliable source of information. I wouldn’t put identity theft past him.

                      But really who cares who he is? Does it make any difference to the crap he writes?

                • Tim Ellis

                  If you are referring to me, LP then you have scraped a new level of hypocrisy. I thought your hysterical ruling that allowed others to openly abuse me a couple of weeks ago was bad enough, but for you to own and run a website that runs anonymous postings by labour party activists while you say you don’t know the identity of these people, yet at the same time you pass judgement on the motives of a real person who uses their real name in comments, says to me you have hit the low tide mark.

                  • felix

                    Alice, your definition of “abuse” is a bit self-serving for anyone to take you seriously in this regard. Which is why no-one does.

                    If you don’t like being called a liar, don’t tell lies.

                    Simple enough isn’t it?

            • lprent

              I suspect that you are just acting like a fool. But I’ll ask anyway. How exactly did the greens structure their affairs to accommodate families in wellington at the taxpayers expense?

              From what I can see of the greens superannuation plan, it is just a landlord charging market rents. The only thing different is that someone forgot to divide by two. I don’t see spouses or kids being put up rent and mortgage free at my taxpaying expense.

            • Tim Ellis

              Nice to see you taking the low moral ground with the families issue LP. Mr English, if he is an out of town MP (and we will know soon from the AG whether this is the case) is entitled to a Ministerial house. You know, the same kind of Ministerial house that Mr Anderton had and Mr Goff had. You can bet that the cost of Mr Anderton’s house (Vogel House) and Mr Goff’s ministerial house were significantly more than Mr English received for his house.

            • Swampy

              Don’t forget to throw in all the electorate offices around the country, owned by parties or MPs, that are rented by Parliamentary Services.,

          • Gordon Shumway

            I suspect you are acting the fool lprent, so we are even.

            The Superannuation scheme structuring allows year-on-year for the maximum amount to be claimed as “rent”, rather than a decreasing amount claimed to pay mortgage interest. <———– That's ignoring the issue of "forgot to divide by two".

            Whatever way you dice it, it's structuring that just happens to increase the expenses that could be claimed by each MP.

            I will say again, just like Bill English, the arrangement is probably legal but certainly small-minded and greedy,

            • Maynard J

              Oh, so you think they should be forced to buy a house, and that MPs are not allowed to rent. So, representative democracy, as long as the representatives are rich. Nice one.

            • lprent

              You are a fool. What do you think that the superannuation fund is for? Purchasing houses? No I’d go further and call you simple….

              Yep, it is called a market rate. As an owner of rented property myself (and simplifying down to your level) you view the mortgage payment as being part of the ‘cost’, the ‘rent’ you get from tenants as being revenue. The difference between the rent and costs is called ‘profit’.

              The amount you can charge for a property is called the ‘market rate’. It is at this price point that you can find someone willing to rent the property. Based on similar properties this is usually reasonably well known.

              The intent of all of this is so that the fund can use the ‘profit’ to pay the beneficences of the superannuation fund or to increase its value for when it does pay it. To be a sustainable fund, it will charge market rates to make money.

        • gitmo

          Tom, suckling on the public teat is entrenched amongst parliamentarians – it knows no political boundaries.

          “Ms Turei said the Greens’ setup was not a “rort”. But the system should be reviewed, including whether MPs should be able to personally benefit from an allowance, as they had for decades.

          “When I first got into Parliament MPs from other parties told me that is the first thing I should do buy a flat in Wellington because the [mortgage] interest would be paid.”


          This is bound to be just the tip of the iceberg – their sense of entitlement is appalling – remember Douglas’s commentary on spending up large to the taxpayer to go up to the UK to see his grandchildren – all perfectly legal of course but also undeniably gorging at the public teat. Then you could go on to look at the number of past parliamentarians and cronies who are put on the boards of publicly owned/run entities…… it just goes on and on and on.

          • Swampy

            As far as I can see the issue is pretty much split between
            – People who think that MPs are all gorging at the trough, and should get a lot less

            – People who think MPs are entitled to those things due to the nature of the job they are doing.

            When it gets down to the level of Parliament, it gets pretty silly to see the Greens pretending they are principled when clearly their aim is to do the same things as every other party and MP in Parliament.

            When the expenses claims were first released back earlier this year, National and Labour kept quiet because each knows full well that each has about the same exposure to allegations they are milking the system. It’s mainly been the Greens trying to curry political favour who have started making so much noise.

            Some fools in Labour and the Progressives now started hassling English with the H-word despite their own H-ness on this matter. It is a political game with high stakes.

            The Greens certainly have not been open about their arrangements so they are beginning to look like prize Hs which is about what I would have expected.

            [lprent: Much much better today Swampy. There were actually some points in there rather than just the simple spinning of lines you wrote yesterday. Consequently I didn’t feel the urge to reciprocally graffiti your comments. ]

            • felix

              So you see no difference between:

              a) claiming an allowance you are entitled to,


              b) lying about your circumstances to claim an allowance you are not entitled to.

              I suggest that the problem is not the allowance, but the lying.

  6. burt 6

    You guys just don’t get it do you. If National can say “others were doing it too” and also say “look the Green’s got it wrong so the rules must be confusing” then… what choice will they have but to validate what English did?

    DPF is just doing the same work for National that was done here at the standard for Labour in 2006.

  7. Tom Semmens 7

    “…It got Espiner all excited…”

    I was watching the charming Pixar movie “Up” with my nephew the other day, and the dogs in it remnded me of something I couldn’t quite put a finger on. Now it has come to me. They reminded me of the press gallery.

  8. Herodotus 8

    Minor point, by undercharging rents, is there not some tax issue?
    As if a coy undercharges rent to an employee is there not an FBT issue as there is an interrelated parties here and the ability to deduct full expenses associated to the property?
    Main point I want to make is that all these discussions are leading us away from what I think is the real issue. The appropiateness of such payments and the rules that are associated. I take from inferance that the rules are Ok as all parties concerned are operting within them. So if that is the case as long as an individual complies with them that is ok. Before I get targeted I am basing an assumption that Bills trust is not doggy as that is another issue that could be solved by a timeline and supporting docs !!

    • DavidW 8.1

      Or as one of the Standard’s commenters so helpfully pointed out the other day (sorry, can’t remember who) there is an obligation on the Trustees to maximise the income from the Trust’s investments. How does renting to yourself “at below market value” achieve that?

      • DavidW 8.1.1

        Also have to say that as far as I know there is no obligation on Parliamentary Services to pay “market rents” so what is relevant is how does the charged rent relate to the maximum claimable amount? I suspect the magic figure is $24,000 pa which (surprise, surprise) is remarkably close to $461 per week which (surprise surprise) is just below the claimed “market rent” of $500 per week. WOW

  9. Tim Ellis 9

    I haven’t made a “big thing” about people “hiding” behind pseudonyms LP. I’ve made a big thing about people with pseudonyms making personal attacks against real people who use their real names that have the effect of excluding those people. Those are policies of your blog that apparently you’re quite happy to be hypocritical in the least in enforcing. Right now it’s also clear that any moral high ground you might have had over the “sewer” is gone and your gutter attacks against me are just as cowardly.

    • lprent 9.1

      Don’t be stupid.

      A. I haven’t claimed any high ground. What I’m interested in is having a useful site rather than one one full of
      crap. That is why I drive trolls out. It is also why I stomp on people trying to set the rules for others.
      The only rules on this site are the ones the moderators and I care to enforce.

      B. If people have an issue with ‘personal’ attacks in posts, then my e-mail is clearly available on the About.
      Talk to me about it. In the last 2 years there has been precisely one person who has had an issue,
      and that was with a comment referring to them rather than a post.

      C. You frequently make insinuations based around psuedonym’s. Frankly it is just bullshit. There is no real
      benefit as far as other people are concerned about real names vs psuedonyms. It is what you write
      that carries value. You frequently say things of value. You also spin a lot of bullshit. People judge you on
      that. Exactly the same applies to posts.

      D. I realize you’re out of town today. But you should really think about what you say rather than relying
      on pontification.

      E. Always remember what the primary cause of self-martyrdom is on this site (read the Policy).

      Anyway, I’ve wasted enough time on this already. Back to bug hunting

  10. mike 10

    “The Greens made a simple bookkeeping mistake which they corrected when they discovered it”

    I bet you believe in the tooth fairy too Marty if you swallow that crap from the greens.
    If it was a simple bookkeeping mistake they would have advised PS and put buried a press release somewhere.

  11. Swampy 11

    Sorry, you’re wrong about the mortgage payments. MPs can only claim the interest part of a mortgage payment, which is only a part of the payment.

    [I could tell you of several investment properties where the rent doesn’t cover an interest-only mortgage. marty]

  12. Swampy 12

    Hmm, lemme see

    “that would be a rort that’s not what the Greens do.”

    Says who? Phillida Bunkle did what English is accused of.

    “Bill English, in contrast, claimed an allowance he wasn’t entitled to. Bill’s not in trouble because of perception. He’s in trouble for unrepentantly and intentionally ripping us off by lying about where his primary place of residence is so he could get money that wasn’t for him.”

    Says who?

    This is all just opinion. Where is the corroboration? Selective quoting and opinionating is not really going to help your case. English’s arrangements were approved with the full knowledge of all the Speakers of Parliament at the time. That doesn’t help your case much.

    • felix 12.1

      This has been gone over so many times it could only be you who still doesn’t get it.

      The Speaker takes an MP at their word. There is no checking up on what the MP says – if Bill says he lives in Dipton, the Speaker doesn’t go through his phone bills to verify it – he just accepts the MP’s word.

      So what you’re pointing out is that Bill English has probably lied to several different speakers over the years.

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