Bill English claims (echoes of another Bill!) that he did not have pecuniary relations with his family trust:
“I didn’t have a pecuniary interest in the trust, I never have had, I don’t now and I don’t have any other interests in it.”
According to both common sense and the Auditor General he was wrong about that. Bill English also said that the changes made to the trust were made for personal reasons (the fact that he then got an increased Wellington allowance was just a “coincidence”):
He says he made the change “for personal and family reasons” unrelated to parliamentary allowances. Asked yesterday what those reasons were, he said: “I’m not sharing them with you.”
John Key backed up this story:
In March this year the title was transferred to Mrs English. The home, now worth an estimated $1.2 million, is owned by a family trust.
Question to Mr Key: “When you said he changed the trust arrangement after the election, and that was the thing that qualified him for the Ministerial Services allowance, and yet he didn’t do it to qualify for the allowance, it was just a coincidence?”
Mr Key: “That’s my understanding.”
What a lucky coincidence for Bill eh! Changed his trust for personal reasons and just happened to be able to shake a few thousand more out of the taxpayer. Do you believe him? I don’t. And now we know for sure he was lying. According to the Auditor General’s report:
The result was that the Crown was renting a property for Mr English from a trust in which he had an interest, and the arrangement was explicitly based on a view that he did not have an interest. Clearly, this was unfortunate. We emphasise that the Minister’s declaration was based on advice. However, in our view, the advice was not directly relevant to this situation. We consider that Ministerial Services should have raised this with the Minister.
English sought “advice” (read support from a mate?) to the effect that the change to his trust “qualified” him for an extra allowance. (It didn’t, but he nearly got away with it.) You don’t seek advice on how changes influence your allowances unless you are making plans regarding your allowances. You don’t seek advice by coincidence! Nor do rules get changed for you by coincidence (who changed them and why?).
Bill English knew he was lying when he made that patently ludicrous claim. John Key knew he was lying (or if not he’s away with the pixies) when he supported Bill’s lie. Bill sold out his integrity and his credibility as Finance Minister, and dragged Key into his lies to boot, all for few thousand bucks. Was it worth it Bill?