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Ministers’ housing claims up 17% as rorts continue

Written By: - Date published: 12:22 am, November 4th, 2010 - 48 comments
Categories: corruption, national/act government - Tags:

Weren’t Bill ‘Double Dipton’ English and other  ministers caught rorting the housing allowance system last year? Didn’t the Government revamp the system by giving ministers capped allowances, supposedly to save money and stop rorts? Why then are we, as I predicted, paying more than ever while ministers blatantly rip us off?

Bill ‘Double Dipton’ English’s landlord obviously took pity on him after his housing scandal because he’s no longer claiming $914 a week rent. He claims zero now. Jonathan Coleman, too has suddenly discovered he doesn’t have any housing costs to claim either, despite claiming $477 a week in the first six months of last year. The fact that their claims have evaporated after the rort scandal is more evidence they were never legitimate at all.

Other ministers have also been able to magically reduce their rent claims, which is really lucky: Judith Collins from $886 a week to $775, Anne Tolley from $847 a week to $719, Wayne Mapp from $726 to $500, Paula Bennett from $719, Rodney Hide from $732 to $719, (hmm, that’s a popular rent, eh? We’ll come back to that), Philip Heatley from $946 to $575. Isn’t it awfully convenient that these ministers are able to cut the amount they’re claiming after an expenses scandal. But does the new amount they’re claiming bear any relation to reality? Again, the suspicion has to be they were claiming illegitimate expenses under the old system and are claiming the most they can now, regardless of their actual costs.

Meanwhile, eight ministers have actually increased their housing cost claim: Murray McCully from $495 a week to $719, Tim Groser from $344 to $719, Steven Joyce from nothing to $719, Georgina te Heuheu from $306 to $719, Pansy Wong from $676 to $719, Kate Wilkinson from $694 to $719, John Carter from $607 to $719, Nathan Guy from nothing to $575.

Hmm, I think we’ve found what Lockwood Smith didn’t want us to see. All those ministers claiming $719 a week are claiming precisely the maximum that they can under the new rules. It seems highly doubtful that all that second group of ministers suddenly had huge rent increases, or that the first group had big rent cuts. No, this looks the ministers are simply claiming as much as they can, no doubt for most of them their actual housing costs are much lower.

The same applies for the four ministers all claiming $575 a week each, which bears no resemblance to what they were claiming before. They are clearly claiming as much taxpayer dosh as they can within the new rules, regardless of their actual housing costs.

You can count on two fingers the ministers who aren’t Wellington-based or in Crown-owned houses and haven’t maxed out their housing claim: Wayne Mapp and Jonathan Coleman. I’ll leave you to decide which fingers.

As a result of this mass rorting, the cost of Wellington housing for ministers has ballooned from $9782 a week in the first six months of last year to $11,484 – a huge 17% increase in just over a year.

We were promised that this new system would save us $200,000 a year while preventing Double Dipton-style rip offs. I warned that this new system would be ripped off and would cost us more. I haven’t been proved wrong; the ministers are clearly rorting us still and it will cost us over $60,000 more this year than last.

What we need is a PM with standards and the backbone to bring this gaggle of rorting ministers to account. They’ve been on notice and their behaviour has actually got worse. Now heads should roll.

Just don’t hold your breath waiting on John Key to act.

PS. how much was being claimed under Labour in 2008? $7923 a week.

48 comments on “Ministers’ housing claims up 17% as rorts continue ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    Good on Double Dipton for coming clean at last. Sort of. Any idea how many tax payers dollars he got for his Karori “rent” over the years? Would three hundy $K work as a first guess?

    • Sean 1.1

      Last year Trevor Mallard postedJohn Armstrong’s article on the subject. Armstrong put the cost at $24 K per year before his big blow out when he got back on the ministerial benches.

      Given the Member for Wallace 1990-1996, and then Clutha Southland would have been claiming that allowance from day one – it would all add up to near half a million. Which is a fair bit of money to pay Bill English to live in his own house.

      Then there is the whole setting up of his family trust, so he didn’t have an interest in it, which, perhaps coincidentally, meant he could claim more allowance around living in his own home. Article linked here.

      Bill English never explained why that move was necessary. On the Right, Cactus Kate thought this move was a vehicle for rorting. Quote linked here.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        Thanks Sean, appreciated.

        BTW I can’t seem to get your last two links to come up…any chance you could check them?

  2. Irascible 2

    “I’m perfectly relaxed about these claims.” says John Key, smiling & waving to passing tourists, interviewed today at his holiday home in Hawaii. “My ministers are following the Cabinet manual so I’m not worried about the cost to the taxpayer after all my Hobbits are in need of subsidies just like the country’s new owners, Warner Bros.”

  3. jcuknz 3

    This seems a common result of all the nit-pickers trying to save the taxpayer a few dollars … this pre-occupation with saving actually costs and helps to destroy the systems effectiveness.
    As a friend told me the other day .. he could use $25,000 for a machine to assist him to cure people in our public system but no the bean counters would rather take on another of their ilk to count every cent and meanwhile sick people suffer longer for lack of proper treatment.
    So what I’m saying is that if people had not cried about DD’s perks of old we would have saved more in the long run.
    I would prefer to see some waste or rorts rather than the failure of the system through excessive accounting.

    • Marty G 3.1

      or, they could just stop ripping us off.

      If National’s policy is ‘let us get away with rorts or we will change the rules and rort even more’ that’s pretty sad.

      • jcuknz 3.1.1

        It is human nature and I’m sure most would react in a similar way except for paragons of virtue and altruism such as yourself Marty 🙂

        In any case I never considered they were ripping us off but rather accepting the perks of a highly stressful and difficult job. We apparently have now set a limit and they are claiming to that limit. So challenge the limit but not the claimants.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1

          In any case I never considered they were ripping us off but rather accepting the perks of a highly stressful and difficult job.

          Yep. Sounds like the rationale Richard Fuld used after he walked away with US$484M in accumulated pay and bonuses after destroying Lehman Bros and tens of billions of global value.

          Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that MPs are particularly well paid, no siree. But taking the piss like Karori based Double Dipton, claiming for living in Southland when he hasn’t lived there forever? That’s bad.

        • Marty G 3.1.1.2

          or, they could just stop ripping us off.

          A 17% increase in housing allowance claims when the new system was meant to save money shows that they’re rorting us.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.3

          It is human nature…

          Actually, it’s not. Most people (~80% IIRC) are actually honest and would most likely claim the proper amount (linky to quick and nasty study but I’ve also read proper research that says the same thing). The people who claim more than they should are not the norm and are, at the very least, mildy psychopathic.

  4. Craig Glen Eden 4

    Bluddgers the lot of them lowest of the low, taking from us hard working tax payers to line their own pockets, they sit around all day doing nothing, eating food that I cant put on my table, I bet they have sky TV to. Getting fatter and fatter drinking alcohol bloody disgusting bluddgers.

    Don’t get me started on their lack of parenting skills either what do they do with those snotty nosed kids that they produce, send them off to boarding schools that we subsidize . Bluddgers low life scum sucking of you and me.It makes me so mad aye. I bet they claim everything they can to really max the system out, cars, food, travel, accommodation bloody scum.

    Man Im gonna vote National cos they cant stand low life bluddgers, they stand for personal responsibility, oh hang on??????????????????

    • Nice one CGE.

      This story has that stench of hypocracy about it.

      Capcha, “steal”. How does the computer do this?

      • Spy vs Spy 4.1.1

        i’ve figured it out Mr Savage,
        Project Ecehelon has a warped humour circuit that pre-jacks the servers’ capcha tags when its predictive algorithms have already seen what you are going to write

      • Bright Red 4.1.2

        plus, Irish watches you while you sleep.

    • Anne 4.2

      Well put CGE. The following may not be directly related, but I learnt recently that the Nats run a “candidates college” where potential politicians are “trained”. That explains a lot doesn’t it. Brain-washed robots!

      They learn how to spin the facts and believe what they are saying (Hekia Parata on Back-benches last night was a good example). They are imbued with a sense of superiority and entitlement which enables them to rort the systems with no feelings of guilt or remorse. They think it’s their right. And when the rest of us complain we’re told it’s our own fault.

      Perhaps the saddest aspect is that so many, many people still can’t see through them.

  5. kriswgtn 5

    Cos to them

    ITs all about the mooloah and how much they can rip us off

    they dont give 2 f***king stuffs- theyre in it for the $$$$$

  6. Carol 6

    They shouldn’t be rorting and trying to avoid being noticed, and they should be held accountable under transparency. However, it isn’t the biggest political issue we have.

    The hypocrisy of many on the right is staggering though. There were constant howls about the little misdimeanours of the last Labour-led government, and escalation of its relevance to claims of the Clark government being an undemocratic dicatorship. So many on the right are silent about the widespread ways in which this NACT government is undermining democracy, ACTUALLY putting though laws that make dictatorship ACTUALLY possible, as well as relative silence about the NACT spending rorts. It shows how much they relie on spin and distortion & don’t give a s***t for democracy and transparency.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    Still say the best thing we could do is build an apartment complex that the MPs who live outside Wellington can stay in while in Wellington. Stop giving them actual money as it becomes a vehicle that they can then rip us off through.

    • Jim Nald 7.1

      Mmm good idea

      But “apartment complex”?
      What say put them in a kind of multi-tenant state housing?
      And we’re not talking about Buckingham Palace please.

      • Craig Glen Eden 7.1.1

        Apartment complex? Good Idea how many nice warm shipping containers do you think they would need DTB?

        • Jim Nald 7.1.1.1

          Ah, double-bunking the current lot of cabinet MPs.
          Wotta suggestion!

          • Craig Glen Eden 7.1.1.1.1

            I was not thinking double bunking but now that you have suggested it the mind boggles. Jim you are awful but I do like you as Dick Emery use to say.Ha we need a good political satire show its sadly lacking at present.

  8. KJT 8

    Time we dismissed the lot. Follow the Swiss and actually have democracy.

  9. Jared 9

    Remember Phil Goff and his apartment that he owned while living in another the government paid for?
    He told us he would be selling it off shortly.
    Earlier this year I asked on Red Alert whether he had sold it like he promised, after his criticism of other National MP’s for the same abuse. I was subsequently banned from Red Alert for even asking.
    Turns out he still owns the apartment (Look it up on Companies Office under Mansfield Towers)
    Hypocritical much?

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Meh, links please if it ever happened at all that is.

      • Jared 9.1.1

        http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/mps-housing-perks-cause-controversy-2887032

        “Phil Goff also rents out his Wellington flat whilst living elsewhere in the capital on the public purse. When asked by ONE News why he doesn’t just live in the flat and not claim public money, Goff said “Because the flat is currently tenanted and I plan to sell it.” August 2009

        Still listed as holding shares in the Mansfield Apartment Building in Thorndon.

        • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.1

          I wonder how Bill English’ double dipton scheme compared.

          • Jared 9.1.1.1.1

            So its ok for Phil to do as he has criticised others for doing?

            • Pascal's bookie 9.1.1.1.1.1

              So how about that 17% increase since the system was fixed Jared?

              Did you read the post, or is it because you read it that you are dragging up irrelevant nonsense?

              Even if it was relevant to the post, you haven’t provided a link to Goff criticising people for doing what he was doing. Maybe he did, there are plenty doing what he is doing afterall, but English got the most flack, and he was doing something completely different.

              So even if Goff is a hypocrite, which you haven’t shown, why does that matter? Goff isn’t here, and he didn’t write the post. Goff didn’t rewrite the rules and oversee a 17% increase, which is what the post is about.

        • Bright Red 9.1.1.2

          there’s nothing wrong with owning a rental property, whether in wellington or elsewhere. If Goff is planning to sell the apartment he owns sometime, then bully for him.

          The problem with Double Dipton was he was getting his family trust to ‘rent’ the home to his family and asking us, the taxpayers, to pick up this fictive bill he had created.

    • KJT 9.2

      I fail to see how the ownership of other properties anywhere affects his costs in Wellington.
      Double dip was pretending to live in elsewhere so he got paid twice.

      I could own 15 flats in Wellington. My boss would still pay for me to stay there if I had to relocate temporarily from my normal house.

  10. Vicky32 10

    Those who think MPs are not well paid – well, I can’t see that myself! You could say “It’s all relative innit, but does anyone actually *need* any more than $65 000 pa? Want however, is another thing…

    • KJT 10.1

      Well. I am a bit baffled as to how anyone survives on a family income under 60k.
      We never seem to have any left over on a lot more than that.

    • KJT 10.2

      Definitely sympathise with anyone on a benefit the way groceries, power and housing are going up.

      • budgetbob 10.2.1

        a lot more than 60 000 and nothing left over? what – over 2000 a week? baffles me too
        we could try and work out where all your money goes ay?
        any holidays overseas in the course of the year? investment portfolio?
        meals out?
        shows, concerts?
        high tech toys? pricey hobbies like offroading, boating?
        guest wings in yr palace, I mean house. Private schooling, horse riding? skiing trips?
        bach at the beach?
        eight kids? sponsors of a hospital ward in Vanuatu.
        meat five night a week, leisurely cafe brunches on the weekend

        some or none of the above? c’mon we can do this – expensive drug habit? gambling? addiction to prada?

        nice to have you sympathise with beneficiaries tho’, shows class

        • KJT 10.2.1.1

          60k is about the median family income. More like $900 a week after tax.

          Not much room for ski trips etc after feeding 3 kids etc etc.

          Shows how much real income has dropped in NZ.

      • Vicky32 10.2.2

        I brought up one and a half children on a DPB, which came to under $20 000 a year. (What I mean by one and a half is that I got “paid” to bring up one of them, but had the other one with me occasionally. Looking back, I don’t know how I managed but I did!

        • KJT 10.2.2.1

          Spent two years at varsity recently while paying for a mortgage and the 3 kids. Still seemed to find money for coffees though.
          Now back being paid and seem to have less money. Go figure?

          • Jim Nald 10.2.2.1.1

            Dear Vicky32 and KJT
            Rest assured – it may not be obvious to some yet but Jonkey is doing everything he can to ensure you are raising your kids to be well groomed to cross over the ditch to earn better Aussie salaries and have a better future than you.

            • Vicky32 10.2.2.1.1.1

              My youngest son is planning to go to the UK next year to nurse, because he has friends and ex-colleagues there… However he has definitely chosen the wrong time to do that!

        • Colonial Viper 10.2.2.2

          Ah, the good old days, right before a block of cheddar hit $14.

  11. PC Brigadier 11

    This makes me tea party-like mad.

  12. Drakula 12

    Id give the buggers nuthin but tea chest at bottom of garden so my cousin Draco is right give them accomodation with naught cash, but I wouldn’t get too flash like I said maybe two tu a tea chest!!!

  13. Chris73 13

    Yeah thats right Labour, keep scrambling around for something, anything to gain some traction

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