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English in serious trouble

Written By: - Date published: 11:30 am, August 6th, 2009 - 70 comments
Categories: bill english, parliamentary spending - Tags:

Over at Red Alert, Trevor Mallard has posted a form that all MPs wanting an out-of-town allowance must fill out. It asks MPs to list their residential address, and asks “Is this residence the place you would normally go to when you are not on parliamentary business?’

If Bill English put down his Dipton farm and ticked “Yes”, he is in serious trouble.

As John A pointed out yesterday, English has not only been living in Wellington for yonks, he even told the companies office he lives in Karori. So if English put down Dipton on his Parliamentary form and said it was his ordinary residence, it suggests he has lied for his own monetary gain.

I’m not sure about the legal ramifications of that, but politically it’s suicide. The onus is now on English to release his form if he wants to clear his name.

70 comments on “English in serious trouble ”

  1. Pat 1

    When is a Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister “not on parliamentary business”. When he is on his holidays?

    With a decent defense (say Judith Ablett-Kerr!) there is enough ambiguity in the question to get out of it.

  2. IrishBill 2

    I think releasing the form is an important step towards “rounding the story out”.

  3. Bender 3

    Maybe a legal defence Pat – but the public sure as hell aren’t gonna stand for it.

    If English told parliamentary service that his primary residence was Dipton to get tens of thousands of dollars from the taxpayer, his ass is on the way out the door.

  4. vto 4

    In keeping with the “they did it too” defence, and “rounding it out”, lets see Helen Clark’s form with regard to her Auckland home too.

    Just because previous ministers are no longer ministers does it remove them from a possible fraud charge. Watch out you lot or you will end up shitting in your own nest.

    • Bender 4.1

      You’re stupid vto.

      • Pat 4.1.1

        No Bender. The public aren’t going to believe calls for English to be sacked, until they are sure all other MP’s are squeaky clean.

        There is one, and only one, clear winner that will emerge from all of this. His name is John Key. I am amazed that none of you can see it.

        • toad 4.1.1.1

          At least Key, to his credit, doesn’t claim the allowance, presumably becasue he decided he doesn’t need it.

        • Eric C. 4.1.1.2

          Well the public bought it when Marian Hobbs and Philida Bunkle were being trashed by the Nats and their buddies. And, we now know that English wasn’t squeaky clean then.

          You won’t find another case like English.

          Still, you are right Pat. Key will be a winner. When English goes there will be no one standing at his back holding a knife, just waiting for the right moment.

    • Bright Red 4.2

      Actually, Clark spent as much time as she could at her family home in Auckland, even in sitting weeks she usually went back on Thursday or Friday.

      She never liked Wellington much by all accounts. She certainly didn’t live there full-time like English does.

      • BLiP 4.2.1

        Yep.

        Helen never really “got” Wellington – whanganui-a-tara.

        She was always was an Auckland chick. I was always disappointed that Helen would inevitably chose going “home” rather than spending the weekend in Wellington. Of course, her busband lived there – (never got to know Peter) – but, when ever she was asked why she would rather go to:”Dorkland”, Aunty Helen always said: “the league are playing BLiP: as much as I would like to hang with you and your mates, I’m off to see Stacey Jones kick some Aussie arse.”

        She loved her footy.

    • Must … confuse … and … divert

    • Trevor Mallard 4.4

      Everyone knows that Helen and Peter’s primary residence was Cromwell St Auckland. TVNZ often interviewed her there. There is no they did it too defence available to this one.

    • lprent 4.5

      Don’t be a dork vto. She spend most sundays at home with Peter in Cromwell Street. On saturdays she’d do electorate work. On occasions, usually when there was a state occasion that Helen had to put up with, Peter would head down to wellington for the weekend.

      Peter worked at Auckland Uni, except for a stint at Canterbury in mid-00’s. Then both of them would usually commute to Auckland during the weekends so Helen could do electorate work but still spend time with Peter. Bloody hard workers both of them. Like Jarbury, I’d see them for one thing or another periodically.

      I’d suggest that you ignore the miserable misogynist liars of the right, especially that blowhard Ian Wishart who makes his ‘research’ up largely by imagining his fantasies and then jerking off on it. They simply couldn’t stand seeing women being effective and chose to blame it all on Helen.

  5. vto, except when Helen Clark wasn’t on parliamentary business she lived in Mt Eden. I used to see her Labour caravan in Sandringham every Saturday morning.

    • Pat 5.1

      I don’t think she was ever in it.

      • jarbury 5.1.1

        Considering I saw her standing out the front of it on many many occasions I think you’d be very wrong there Pat. I used to live on Eden View Road, very close to Sandringham shops and drop my girlfriend at work at 10am every Saturday morning. I’d often see Helen around there chatting to locals.

    • IrishBill 5.2

      And her husband lived and worked in Auckland.

    • felix 5.3

      The chap at the Indian takeaways round the corner from her place seems to think she lived there when she wasn’t in Wellington – and that her favourite is rogan josh.

      I don’t think a rogan josh would stay warm all the way to Wellington (depending how fast you drive, of course)

  6. Bender 6

    Can’t you buy stocks at ipredict on whether National will lose another Minister this year?

    In the words of the crazy Japanese tv show Banzai – PLACE BETS NOW!

  7. infused 7

    I think you’re wrong if you think you’re going to see bill go.

    • Chris 7.1

      yeah your right. He hasnt even the balls to say he was wrong. Gives the money back but says he was right all along.

  8. vto 8

    Don’t get me wrong – if English has been fraudulent then I dont see how he can stay, and he should go. And be charged appropriately.

    All I am suggesting is that fairness should prevail and all ministers etc should be open to the same scrutiny.

    Is that fair or not fair? Because to just select the odd one and leave out others is ludicruous in the extreme and would never fly (except in this funny place).

    • felix 8.1

      Then find another minister doing what Bill’s doing – claiming an out of Wellington allowance for living in his own family home in Wellington – and I’ll stand beside you and call for the same.

      Go to it.

      • vto 8.1.1

        1. No time or ability or desire. I’m sure there are others out there beavering away at it and will wait for that.

        2. People are getting ahead of themselves. Just allegations to date, nothing proved.

        • Pascal's bookie 8.1.1.1

          1. Then until those beaverers actually find something it is not ‘selective’ to ignore what they find. Otherwise we can’t say anything ever, because who knows what some beaverer might find next week.

          2. Allegations with evidence, that haven’t been denied by anyone. Key was defending English till a couple of days ago. We are ignoring your allegation that some beaverers might find something similar to what English was doing in Labour’s camp untill those beaverers themselves front up with such an allegation. We do this because we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.

          • vto 8.1.1.1.1

            Ps B you are too clever – care to come over to the dark side? could with some more bwains over here..

            anyway,
            1. I aint ignored it, if you check my post above re calling for English to go, and be charged, if true.
            2. There aint no evidence here. The main post simply has a blank form, thats all.

            • vto 8.1.1.1.1.1

              woops, I mashed up 1. anyways, you know what i mean.

              must be the midday sun on my head…

            • Pascal's bookie 8.1.1.1.1.2

              I think it’s more about ethics and morality than legality, so I’m not sure if charges are the aim.

              There is no denying that he was:

              1. Claiming to have his residence down south.

              2. Living with his family in a mortgaged house he owns in Wellington.

              On 1, he claims to reside down south for two reasons,

              firstly to not be seen as a carpetbagger. Fair enough, it’s a polite fictio that most MP’s use if they’ve been in Parliament long enough.

              Secondly though, he is claiming that the house down south is ‘his residence’ to get extra money, money intended as a reimbursement for the extra costs he is supposed to incurr from living away from home. we know he is doing this, because he gets the money. That’s not a polite fiction, but a damn rude one, given his well established family life in Wellington.

              So that’s the evidence. As I understand it the form contains a question that he must have answered to get the money. That answer could be very politically awkward. I’m not sure about the legality.

              As for your kind offer about the switching, I’m sorry but I must decline at this point in time. Our music is better, our crazies less scary, and I just find that the left bettter suits my eschatological framework, if this all changes though, I’ll certainly consider the right as a potential provider.

  9. toad 9

    Been doing a bit more digging into this.

    Seems that 1989-90, when he was first seeking the National Party nomination for Wallace and then contesting the electorate, is the only time Sir Double Dipton has actually lived primarily in Dipton since 1987.

    And, in the words of English’s fellow National Party MP Jackie Blue, Mary English was a “Wellington general practitioner” as of 2001, so the English family were well established as Wellingtonians by then at the absolute latest.

    • toad 9.1

      Update: David Farrar is attempting to raise a defence for English that under section 72(6) of the Electoral Act, an MP does not become a Wellington resident just because they spend most of their time in Wellington.

      The problem with that defence is that the provision is specifically for the purposes of the Electoral Act. Parliamentary accommodation expenses are not paid under the Electoral Act. They are paid from parliamentary appropriations pursuant to the Parliamentary Service Act and the Public Finance Act.

      (6) The place where, for the purposes of this Act, a person resides shall not change by reason only of the fact that the person—

      (a) is occasionally or temporarily absent from that place; or
      (b) is absent from that place for any period because of his or her service or that of his or her spouse, civil union partner, or de facto partner as a member of Parliament; or
      (c) is absent from that place for any period because of his or her occupation or employment or that of his or her spouse, civil union partner, or de facto partner; or
      (d) is absent from that place for any period because he or she, or his or her spouse, civil union partner, or de facto partner, is a student,—

      even if such absence involves occasional or regular residence at another place or other places.

      • vto 9.1.1

        Now we’re getting somewhere. Some bones with meat attached. Onwards chwistian soldiers …

  10. Tim Ellis 10

    There are probably a lot of details that might provide context to this. Like whether Mr English sought or received advice at any point from the Clerk about his MP’s accommodation allowance.

    Nice of Eddie to jump to a conclusion though.

    As a matter of principle I think it is appropriate that an MP representing an out of Wellington electorate receive an allowance in Wellington. If that person is a Minister and has to spend most of their time in Wellington, I think the family should be able to move to Wellington so they can live together.

    I spent many years working in a consulting practice that frequently had consultants flying in for projects. We paid accommodation allowances for out of towners, and one of the priorities was to ensure families weren’t split apart unnecessarily.

    • Eric C. 10.1

      So, Heather Roy should be getting paid to live in her own home in Wellington too, then?

    • Pascal's bookie 10.2

      There are probably a lot of details that might provide context to this.

      Indeed there might be. I’m glad you agree there should be full disclosure.

      …consultants flying in for projects. We paid accommodation allowances for out of towners…

      What about 20 year projects where they bought a house and their spouse set up a profitable business in the city?

      • Tim Ellis 10.2.1

        In that case PB they weren’t out of towners as they relocated, but the firm paid relocation costs.

        From what I’ve seen the arrangements for MPs or Ministers are any more generous than mid-level corporate executives. Which is about what they should be.

    • BLiP 10.3

      timmytimmy . . . probably . . . timmytimmmy . . . might . . . timmytimmy . . . blame someone else . . . timmytimmy . . . matter of princple . . . timmytimmy . . . it happens in the business world . . . timmytimmy. . . families split apart . . . .timmytimmy

    • ghostwhowalks 10.4

      It was his choice to move his family to Wellington plus he gets the costs of travelling to Southland electorate paid by taxpayer.

      • Tim Ellis 10.4.1

        Yes Ghost I see you’re quite happy to see a father split up from his young family. Very decent of you.

        • jarbury 10.4.1.1

          FFS Tim, nobody’s saying that. We’re just saying he should have fessed up to living in Wellington and not claimed the extra money.

        • BLiP 10.4.1.2

          Ignoratio elenchi – you’re scraping the bottom of the barrell today, Timmy.

    • SPC 10.5

      So you think all non Wellington electorate MP’s should get free accommodation on top of their salaries. This regardless of where they live.

      If someone got salary + free accommodation in the private sector they would be paying tax on the value of their free accommodation.

    • Trevor Mallard 10.6

      And if the advice was incorrect then the money should be repaid – without interest. But one of the things one learns when a Minister is that when you sign a document you take responsibility – blaming advice is not good enough.

      • luva 10.6.1

        Just take him outside and punch him Trev.

        That is your way to settle disputes isn’t it.

        IrishBill: I’ve not seen you comment before and this is a troll comment. One more and you’ll be banned for as long as I see fit.

        • luva 10.6.1.1

          That is fair enough IB. My apologies for being a troll. Whatever the hell that is.

          It just annoys me when that thug starts preaching about what is acceptable in Parliament when his actions last year made the place look like a third world circus.

          And for the record I for one think Bill English should tender his resignation immediatley. I have no doubt that what he has done is technically legal and will use that as an excuse to stay there. But it is morally wrong. Especially when he is telling every other government department to be frugal.

  11. Draco T Bastard 11

    It’s fun, in a sick kind of way, to watch the right as they try to defend the indefensible perpertrated by their heroes.

    • vto 11.1

      Draco, if you look closely most of the ‘right’ are not actually defending anyone. What they are suggesting is due and fair process across all ministers, rather than a lynch-blog-mob.

      But you all do seem to be enjoying the mob mentality rush to the head ha ha.

      • Pete 11.1.1

        Remember the Winston Peters fiasco during the election vto?

        Sure it was a ‘bad look’, but he was found to have done nothing wrong. So glad there wasn’t a “mob mentality” then.

        Kudos to the right for their fariness and balance – it’s just such a shame us pinkos forget how generous you are with due process on the right.

        Apologies, the Winston thing was the first one I thought of.

        Oh, and my two cents is that I would actually like to see the expenses of all Ministers held to account – I don’t care what the colour of their flag is – if only because we are all under recessionary pressure.

    • Especially when you remember the way they shouted and screamed about corruption over the past 9 years. I thought the left’s response has been positively restrained in comparison.

      I have one question though.

      Can we expect an apology?

      • luva 11.2.1

        A Labour MP was found guilty of that this week. The screaming was therfore justified so why would anyone apologise

  12. ghostwhowalks 12

    English has claimed both Ministerial allowances ( to live in Wellington) and

    parliamentary allowances to travel back to Dipton – more likely Queenstown

    which is an hour up the road from Dipton

  13. Pat 13

    Let’s spell it out for you Lefties. If English is found guilty of fraudulent activity, he should be, and will be, sacked. No if, buts, maybes and Mallards.

    This is not Field Theory 101.

    • BLiP 13.1

      Surely English must step aside from his Finance portfolio until significant allegations in relation to fraud are resolved? Unless, National Inc’s new standards don’t apply in this case . . .

      • Tim Ellis 13.1.1

        Yes good idea BLiP. Let’s suspend all of Parliament until Mr Key’s investigation and recommendations come back for a month. Since the situation appears to cover most of Parliament.

        Or don’t you want the same standards applied to Mr Goff as you want applied to Mr English?

  14. Zaphod Beeblebrox 14

    Actually all this may prove to be useful distraction for him. Do you think he really wants to talk about presiding over the largest quarterly increase in unemployment in 20 years?

    I’d be more than happy to give him the money if it means he does his job properly.

  15. vto 15

    oh I give up.

    i agree it is a shockingly bad look, and possibly reality, for the minister of finance. and simply paying back some will not take it off the front page when the main issue is where his primary residence is / has been (and as ive said several times, many long term pollies appear to have two residences). that will need to be cleared up asap and i will be watching the msm closely the next day or so to see what magic this lot pull out of the bag to answer that.

    note tho that all ministers, current and previous, are up for this type of analysis and until it is all done and dusted everyone may as well play at mowing down the possums in the headlights (said reaching for top gear while peering thru the goggles for chris carter).

  16. Adrian 16

    There’s no work being done on righting the economy or even mitigating the effects of the recession because a shit scared Key has just about everybody in Wellington on inquiries and arse covering for the inept, corrupt, venal, philandering, immoral , hypocritical bunch of outright mongrels that he has around him [ like attracts like]. If there is already this much crap spilt in 6 months there has to be a brakeless, out-of-control night cart coming around the corner.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 16.1

      If they can have an enquiry to decide if Climate Change exists, they can have an enquiry into anything.

    • Kevin Welsh 16.2

      Comedy gold, Adrian 🙂

      • IrishBill 16.2.1

        I hear those inquires and the perks that started them have been added to the tally for the economic stimulus. Only 10 scandals more and we’ll have the 3rd largest stimulus package by percentage of GDP. I expect the Herald to celebrate centrist Key and his brave willingness to engage in Keynesian economics any day soon.

  17. BLiP 17

    I just find that the left bettter suits my eschatological framework,

    Yeah?

    Me too.

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