Bill English has now paid back all the money he rorted from the taxpayer via the ministerial housing allowance during this term of Parliament. Of course, he continues to plead innocence but his actions amount to an admission of culpability and all the other facts tell us he purposely set out to rip us off.
There remains the question of all the money English has taken in past years by claiming his primary residence was in Dipton when, in fact, his primary residence for the bulk of, if not all of, his parliamentary career has been in Wellington. That will be some hundreds of thousands of dollars in total. All money that English was not entitled to.
I see no way in which English can remain in his position. He has breached the trust of the New Zealand public and paying the money back is an admission of wrongdoing, even if it only came as a result of persistent hard questioning from Labour for which he and his colleagues had no answer.
Paying this year’s money back does not make everything OK any more than a fraudster returning some of the money they pilfered absolves them of guilt for their actions.
English deliberately set out to game the system to his maximum advantage to a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money. He purposely changed his financial situation to increase the size of the allowance and created a legal fiction purporting to separate his interests from his family’s home. He denied all wrongdoing until the political pressure became insurmountable and he still refuses to give an open and transparent account of the trust he used to launder the money.
Time for Key to start looking for a new deputy.