Double standards for Double Dipton?

Written By: - Date published: 6:30 am, September 23rd, 2009 - 39 comments
Categories: bill english, corruption, john key, national/act government - Tags:

Our readers pointed out some interesting quotes in yesterday’s thread on Bill English’s attempt to bully journalists into silence over his housing allowance rort.

Key on why he fired Richard Worth:

“The test of whether someone enjoys my confidence is not a legal test and I have never argued that Dr Worth broke any legal test.’

Key on why he hasn’t fired Bill English:

It’s a legal test and I am absolutely satisfied he has met the legal test
Guyon Espiner: :a legal test but morally, in the eyes of any reasonable thinking person, if it’s a fiamly trust then surely he has a massive interest in it
Key: Well the requirement is around the legal test and I am satisfied he has no pecuniary interest.

Bill English on John Tamihere in October 2004 (just before Tamihere ‘resigned’):

The question is not whether he has broken the law, but whether he has behaved according to the standards of a minister.

So why is English getting softer treatment than the test both he and Key have set? Why is it OK for English to behave immorally by changing his personal financial arrangements to maximise his allowances within the letter but not the spirit of the rules  as long as it’s not illegal? (Key’s statements amount to an admission of that)

We know why. National can’t govern without English. He does everything; all the heavy lifting. Reports we’ve heard from various people dealing with ministers is that ministers cannot take decisions themselves without getting English’s approval first. Can you imagine if Wilkinson, Tolley, Nick Smith, Bennett, Brownlee, and the other bumblers and incompetents had to try to do their jobs without English holding their hands?

The simple fact is Key has to turn a blind eye to English’s rorting because he is too weak and couldn’t govern without him. 

Now, what happens if the Auditor-General decides English has broken the rules or if further evidence comes to light proving that the rules were changed to enable his rort?

39 comments on “Double standards for Double Dipton?”

  1. lprent 1

    That’s right. It is incredibly hard to see any talent inside the nact government. English, while mediocre for a labour government, is the best that they have

  2. Tim Ellis 2

    I don’t think you’re being very honest Eddie.

    Key on why he hasn’t fired Bill English:

    Mr Key was not talking about why he hasn’t fired Mr English. He was talking about whether Mr English qualified for the allowance. The question did not go to confidence and Mr Key did not respond as an issue of confidence.

    The issue of confidence in Dr Worth was not a legal test. The issue of Mr English’s eligibility to a housing allowance is a legal test. You are trying to link the two through some quite knowingly dishonest quoting in my view.

    • Marty G 2.1

      Key’s quote shows the issue of confidence in English or any minister isn’t a legal one but a moral one

      The reason Key has given for not losing confidence in English over the housing rort is purely legalistic

  3. toad 3

    I blogged pretty much the same yesterday evening Eddie. But I also pointed out another aspect – that presumably Key considers sacking the Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister is an even worse look that having him continue to perpetrate the accomodation allowance rort.

    Sacking a Deputy PM is unprecendented in recent times. It would be tantamount to admitting that there is corruption at the highest levels within the National Party, and that would have severe electoral consequences.

    So Key’s decided to tough it out. But just as Clark found with Benson-Pope and Peters, whose transgressions were less serious than English’s, it will continue to gnaw away at his government’s credibility.

    • Tim Ellis 3.1

      I’m pleased to see that you are campaigning against MPs receiving an allowance to live in their own homes toad. Are you going to set your sights on the Green MPs next?

      • Pascal's bookie 3.1.1

        Yawn Tim. Still this tired sophistry in defence of English?

        As you are well aware the point is not “their own homes”, the point is “their primary place of residence”.

        Your continued pushing of this line when it has been explained to you on several occasions by several people, can only be put down to dishonesty. You’re not fooling anyone you know.

        • Tim Ellis

          Actually I disagree PB, the Labour Party may want to draw a thin line around a primary place of residence distinction, but that again is a legal nicety. I don’t think the public really distinguishes between the two. I think the public isn’t happy that the taxpayer might pay people to live in their own homes, or pay them to live in homes when they have perfectly good homes to live in but choose to rent out. They are all rorts in my view, and I expect the public would agree.

          • Pascal's bookie

            No one cares what you think the public thinks Tim. What the public thinks is up to them, and your opinion on what that might be is as baseless as everything else you say. the fact that you have to resort to this sort of sophistry to avoid the issue is very telling. You are well aware that there is a difference between what English is up to and what other mp’s from all parties do. You are trying to conflate them purely for political reasons.

            The simple facts of the case are that there is an allowance available for Ministers who live in Wellington when that is not their primary place of residence. English is claiming that allowance when it is as plain as the nose on his face that he lives in his family home in Wellington. Perhaps you can point to any other politicians that have gotten away with doing this.

            I’m glad you agree that this is a rort though.

            • Tim Ellis

              PB, no MP representing an electorate outside Wellington has ever been held to have a primary place of residence in Wellington. I don’t think it has been found yet that Mr English’s primary place of residence is Wellington. If it were then it would open up isseus about the primary places of residence of other MPs including Mr Goff, and whether the same test should be applied to their entitlement to vote in electorates that they don’t even live in.

            • Pascal's bookie

              The elctoral act is a different beast Tim. Keep up.

              this might help:


              We sought independent advice from the Crown Law Office on the meaning of the residence test in the HSC Determinations, and its relationship to the Electoral Act test.

              In summary, the Crown Law Office told us that:

              the test under section 72 of the Electoral Act is not entirely objective, as one’s registered place of residence may be other than the place where a person regularly lives, at least for the time being;

              the test under the HSC’s Determinations is, however, objective in that it requires consideration of where an MP would be living when not on Parliamentary business;…

              …Ms Hobbs

              We are satisfied that Ms Hobbs:…

              …received advice that, for as long as she was financially supporting her Christchurch property and staying there whenever she returned to Christchurch, she was eligible to claim the Wellington accommodation allowance.

              The Crown Law Office advised us that, in its opinion, the advice given to Ms Hobbs was probably wrong, and that an objective examination of Ms Hobbs’ circumstances would have revealed that her home had shifted to Wellington.

            • exbrethren

              I think that any normal person would class a persons place of residence as where they work, their spouse works and their children go to school.

              Surprisingly for the English family this is not where they claim, Dipton but Wellington.

              Anyone that pretends that this isn’t clear cut is spinning.

      • toad 3.1.2

        Tim, no Green MPs live in their own homes and claim an accommodation allowance. As, PB says, we’ve been down that track numerous times already, and I can assume that you are only trying in your misplaced loyaty to the National Party to make false allegations to take the heat off English.

        • Tim Ellis

          Are you saying toad that Green MPs don’t live in property that is owned by their superannuation funds, for which they receive an accommodation allowance?

        • lukas

          Toad, why should they get any accommodation allowance at all? They are all list MP’s after all and they all knew that the job would require them to be in Wellington for a majority of the time. I strongly believe that the only MP’s that should receive accommodation allowances are electorate MP’s.

          • Maynard J

            Democracy, lukas. Easy as it is to forget it, no one should be forced to pay a hefty bill in order to represent us. A list MP does that (represents us), whether you believe it or not, and forcing them to pay for their housing would exclude some people for running for office.

            This may never play out in reality, but it is important those barriers are not raised on the assumption that all MPs are well financed.

            • lukas

              I get some of that, but my thought process on this is as follows…. they are applying for a job when putting their name on the list. They know that the job is mainly Wellington based. If you or I apply for a job in Wellington when we live in Auckland, we have to sort out our own accommodation generally.

              Perhaps a reduced allowance should be given to list MP’s?

              I would be in favour of reducing the salary of list MP’s too to encourage our best MP’s to fight for electorate seats.

            • BLiP

              That indicates the disparity between your thought process and reality.

            • Maynard J

              Not really – if a company wants you there they will pay for you to transfer.

              Even so, that is not applicable – in the private secitor there is no imperative that you have to be able to get a certain job irrespective of your ability to finance your transition to that job. That is what applies here.

              I see your point, by and large, but I think mine trumps it. Even a reduced allowance would not be alright. Say the kiwi party, full of honest kiwi battlers (ignore the sarcasm for a sec!), picks up a half dozen list seats, but because of the reduced allowance they cannot carry out their business. Far-fetched, but if it could happen, it could discourage participation.

              A better way would be to cover actual costs, but the costs of administration would probably eat up any savings.

    • lukas 3.2

      But just as Clark found with Benson-Pope and Peters, whose transgressions were less serious than English’s

      Toad, you can’t be serious!

      Benson-Pope shoved tennis balls in students mouths! You can’t seriously think that that is less serious than taking an allowance that you are legally entitled too?

      • lprent 3.2.1

        It was more the way that he appears to have shuffled his finances to maximize the ‘allowances’ that is serious. I really don’t care what parliament has voted itself – that is just plain wrong.

        Tennis balls, caning, detention, etc all pretty much 1980’s.. When was this raised – oh 2000 and something… Get over it lukas it is and was history.

        It was a crap case of applying standards from a couple of decades on to previous decades.

        Double dipton on the other hand is doing this crap now…

        • lukas

          late 1980’s and early 1990’s…. same time as when I was at school. It would not have been allowed at the time and would have caused outrage.

          I agree that English has done wrong, but it is not in the same boat as Benson-Pope!

  4. Irascible 4

    regardless of legal niceities the public perception is that English is rorting the system for his own selfish advantage. The process is corrupt and unethical and, if Key had any principles or ethics, is a fireable offence in any real employment situation.

  5. John Key does not want to fire Bill English because with all eyes on B.E.’s antics he can get away with murder.
    More SAS troops to Afghanistan while the “peaceful” rebuilding team gets pulled out. Changing our involvement from peaceful and supportive of the local population to that of active warfare.

    Him meeting with all his former banking buddies in New York discussing how to get more carbon tax out of all us saps and how to get us more into debt for one more good looting before the Worlds economy collapses due to the fraud perpetrated by the international finance elite he so happily rubs shoulders with.

    Hell, B.E.’s taxpayer money grabs are positively mild compared to what JK and his international puppet masters have in store for us.

  6. Mr Key must be in a quandary. Mr English is wounded, perhaps, as Mr Garner has it, mortally. Equally, as the post notes, Mr English ‘does the heavy lifting’.in the government. He is their best senior politician, though Mr Joyce appears to be a quick study. One can see a running sore, debilitating Mr English for months, even years.What to do, what to do?

    I wonder if Mr English will simply walk away. He can never be leader. He must watch the amateur in power with mixed feelings, one suspects primarily negative. He may even hanker after a quiet life in Dipton. Why take the load and stress?

    • outofbed 6.1

      Yes keep the pressure on English
      He shows signs of cracking He now has no chance of being PM, the public don’t like him much, He is on his way out.
      Btw I can’t see him or his family hankering to live in Dipton they have shown no signs of it for the last 10 years!

  7. GFraser 7

    According to Hooten on Mondays Nine to Noon, Labour don’t want English to go as the alternative, Joyce, would be a tougher proposition.
    Any substance to this? or is it a case of the bold Mr. Hooten blowing bubbles?

    • lprent 7.1

      As a general rule Hooten doesn’t do anything else.. All froth and little substance. But that is what his clients pay him for.

      • lukas 7.1.1

        same apply for Trevor? Hooten was probably quoting direct from the article in the NZ Herald where Trevor said exactly that.

        • Robert Winter

          I think that this is the case. Messrs Key and Joyce would make a much tighter team that Messrs Key and English. For me, it is the axis around which a newly configured National Party might emerge – pro-business, technocratic, less ideologically-fixed, but still into control of expenditure, less farmer-orientated, more finance./Auckland focused, more attuned the youth and women etc etc. It would be a challenging prospect for Labour.

          • Ianmac

            I live in the Provinces a million miles away from politics, but it seems obvious to me that English will be stepped aside and replaced by Joyce. Joyce has the ability to communicate succinctly and can run circles around Key in his delivery. I hope that the National leadership stays flakey because the changes as above, will strengthen their hand, sadly. (Even Tim would applaud such changes 🙂 )

  8. So Bored 8

    Nice to see the usual suspects defending the undefendable with the same trite arguments…so very boring. I am not sure why Eddie limits the attack to DDipton on this one, the reality is that he is part of a status quo that props up the hole rotten edifice of position, power and privelege based upon a legalised larceny. All DD has done is to use this legal framework in the same way that anybody with the cash and the inclination does to minimise their loss to tax and expenses. There is an unspoken systemic complicity, we know the whole economic system is one of institutionalised rorts, we the populace are supposed to either partake of our own rort or turn a blind eye.

    • burt 8.1

      Defending the indefensible… watch out Rob will try and defend it on one condition – the party flag is red. The blue team – they should be held to account.

  9. seems like the higher you are in the National Party,
    the lower the standards of accountability 🙁

  10. Irascible 10

    Looks like the Nosferatu of the NACT govt- Roger Douglas – is demonstrating the same urge to rort the taxpayer and indulge his own over-wrought ego by using taxpayers’money to publish his outdated, discredited thoughts and economic theories. Isn’t it time that “Perk-Buster” Hide started busting “Rort the Taxpayer” Douglas? Incidentally why is Rodney silent over Double Dipton?

    • So Bored 10.1

      Love the Nosferatu imagery, goes nicely with vampire capitalism. of course Perk-buster Wod will have a very selective eye when it comes to Dodgy Rogers rorts, selective complicity strikes again.

  11. Irascible 11

    Looks like the Nosferatu of the NACT govt- Roger Douglas – is demonstrating the same urge to rort the taxpayer and indulge his own over-wrought ego by using taxpayers’money to publish his outdated, discredited thoughts and economic theories. Isn’t it time that “Perk-Buster” Hide started busting “Rort the Taxpayer” Douglas? Incidentally why is Rodney silent over Double Dipton? Unless the rort that is the super city offersDD & co opportunities to really rort the system.

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