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It’s not about Dipton, it’s about corruption

Written By: - Date published: 4:36 pm, October 3rd, 2009 - 29 comments
Categories: bill english, corruption - Tags:

Colin Espiner: “To start with the ironical, Acting Prime Minister Bill English had no sooner hauled his protesting family back to Dipton for the parliamentary recess to prove that it was still really his home than he had to come straight back to Wellington again [to deal with the tsunami].

It neatly illustrated his argument, I thought. You can’t run the country – or the economy for that matter – from Dipton. And even though the quake struck early in the morning, it was around 3pm before English finally got back to Wellington.”

Sigh.

No-one is trying to force English to live in Dipton. Certainly no-one is recommending running the country from there.

English has chosen to live Wellington nearly all his adult life (he also went to boarding school there) and that’s absolutely fine in and of itself. But because he lives in Wellington he wasn’t entitled to take the allowance meant for out of town ministers. And he shouldn’t have altered his family trust arrangementsto allow him to do it.

It’s got nothing to do with Dipton.It’s about a person placed in a position of trust abusing that trust and exploiting loopholes to take money that wasn’t intended for them.

29 comments on “It’s not about Dipton, it’s about corruption”

  1. Chris 1

    Colin’s never been the brightest boy in the press gallery…

  2. RedLogix 2

    Anyone else less than overwhelmed by the govt’s response to Samoa’s plight so far? OK so they have made a few moves, but it’s all been lacking urgency… and so far it’s not all that clear what difference it’s making on the ground.

    I’m very reluctant to be seen scoring political points off this disaster; I would much rather I that our response had been prompt and effective, something all Kiwis could be proud of…. but so far no.

    • Steve 2.1

      New Zealand is proud of the Scoutmasters who make themselves available for Civil Defense

    • Marty G 2.2

      Unless the response was completely unacceptable, I see no mileage in the left being critical, it would merely be seen as distasteful politicking.

  3. Bill 3

    and the corporate media continues to chew over Taito Philip Fields. what a surprise. remember pravda anyone?

    • sweetd 3.1

      Bill, TFF is news; he is about to be sentenced. At the time of his crime he was a government minister. That makes it news. A govt. minister being sentenced and serving a jail term. Dunno what parallel universe you live on, but in mine, this sort of thing doesn’t happen every day.

      • Bill 3.1.1

        “Dunno what parallel universe you live on, but in mine, this sort of thing doesn’t happen every day.”

        Neither does my next door neighbour’s left bollock spontaneously dropping to the ground and bouncing off down the street. But is it news? Is it relevant given the context of unfolding events that have or might have an impact on us? No.

        And TPF is as newsworthy as my NDN and his bollock.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 3.1.2

        Im sure something will happen once he has been sentenced, but just recently with Worth Key went all silent !!
        A government minister sacked over a sexual harrasment complaints ( key did nothing for the first one) and it was a ‘private matter’

  4. Tigger 4

    Actually I think Key took far too long to turn up there. And then he referred to it (on tonight’s news) as resembling Afghanistan… Has he been there?

  5. Ron 5

    I don’t think ironical is a word, is it?

  6. QoT 6

    I also note the ignoring the fact that there’s a world of difference between Bill having to come back to Wellington and the English family. He chose to move his entire family to Wellington, which I do not disagree with. And the whole bloody POINT of the accommodation allowance, plus healthy travel subsidies is to facilitate MPs to travel to Wellington when their jobs require it while their family resides out of Wellington.

    I’m so bloody sick of Espiner and the like peddling this “it’s about the LOOK” line it’s unreal.

  7. SPC 7

    I think Bill English and other out of Wellington MP’s who bring up their families in Wellington have been let down by the existing system.

    I don’t think it matters where the family lives (Wellington or the electorate), the point of the allowance is to cover the need to finance accommodation in two different places.

    I have a problem with the capability of MP’s to claim for mortgage interest cost on a second property at taxpayer expense (which leaves the taxpayer largely paying for a second home). This results in long serving MP’s who own or virtually own the second home (via the taxpayer subsidy), then renting it out and continuing to claim full accommodation costs for another house they rent. I equally have a problem when the second home comes into family Trust ownership with similar effect.

    On this wider issue we need reform.

    1. Lets not make having the family left in the electorate the ground for eligibility – the out of town MP’s have two housing costs and should qualify on this ground.

    2. However when they own the second house there need to be rules here. One option is to only cover half the mortgage cost (so half is contributed by the MP as their investment in ownership) up to the maximum allowable claim, another is to only allow the mortgage interest claim (up to the amount allowable) for a maximum of 10 years (half a 20 year mortgage term).

    • toad 7.1

      I agree, SPC.

      But Bill should have asked for the rules to be changed, rather than, as it appears, lie that he would normally go to Dipton when not on Parliamentary business on a declaration, in order to get what he believed he and his family should have been entitled to.

      • SPC 7.1.1

        Yes Bill English would have been the sort of person who one would have thought had the standing to make a difference on the issue. I suppose he feared that if he so moved a case for this reform people would notice that he was doing so because he did not really qualify (under existing rules) for the allowance he was already claiming and receiving – thus wanted the rules changed after the fact of his false claim.

  8. Gooner 8

    Just ‘cos you say it’s corruption, and even though you repeat it 100 times, doesn’t make it so. It’s dodgy and unethical, but it ain’t corrupt.

    • Rob 8.1

      I’m not sure what you would call corruption but to me doing something dodgy and unethical when put in a position of trust is corruption. Corruption does not require you to do something illegal.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 8.1.1

        The dictionary says

        “corruptness: lack of integrity or honesty (especially susceptibility to bribery); use of a position of trust for dishonest gain”.

        Enough said.
        It exactly parallels the Field situation

    • Actually,
      Dodgy and unethical equals corrupt.

  9. Mr Bean 9

    Two questions (if they haven’t been asked before):
    If Bill English loses at the next election, will he move back to Dipton?

    And, given the amount of parliament recesses (which seem to always co-incide with the school holidays) if the English family went to Dipton each time, how would Bill’s wife continue to run a medical practice in Wellington?

    • ghostwhowalksnz 9.1

      NO he wont!
      Dipton is more like a holiday home. His past and future career would obviously be in Wellinton.
      Even his time in the National Party before being selected as a MP was as Chairman of the Lyall Bay branch of the party.

      Who of his family still lives in the Dipton area?

  10. kelsey 10

    I look forward to the same level of inquiry after we learned this morning on Q+A that the greens have quite literally been douple dipping on their housing payments and made secret repayments to cover it, but only after the press started sniffing around.

    • SPC 10.1

      A standard market rent housing allowance claim was made on behalf of an MP, however it seems someone failed to note that the MP was sharing with another MP – and thus each had to share the market rent entitlement half each. Once this was realised the money was paid back.

      You suggest that the money was only paid back because of media interest. I doubt that and you will find the story is not what you think it was. The Greens paid the money back but made no media statement about it. It was media interest in this detail which led to the public statement about paying some claimed allowance back.

      • Ianmac 10.1.1

        Time lines are important. What a difference between oops we are over-claiming so we will fixit, versus I have done nothing wrong and kicking and screaming and only after months of denial reluctanly paying back and still in denial. Go the Greens.

      • kelsey 10.1.2

        Yes you’re right, the media interest caused the sudden interest in transparency rather than the repayment. However the accidental double payment – totally understandable. I often accidentally pay twice as much for my rent as I need to. Happens all the time.

        • SPC 10.1.2.1

          Its what can happen when someone is doing some paper work and the people involved are not dealing directly with the matter.

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