Yesterday, John Armstrong talked about the Auditor-General’s 2001 report into eligibility for a Wellington accommodation allowance:
the then Auditor-General David MacDonald scrutinised allowances after two ministers – Labour’s Marian Hobbs and the Alliance’s Phillida Bunkle – got into serious strife for claiming out-of-Wellington expenses when they had made Wellington their place of residence by virtue of registering to vote in the Wellington Central electorate.
What Armstrong doesn’t mention, is that in the report (online here, see Part 2, Page 61) the Auditor-General sets out a criteria as to whether a Wellington home should be considered an MP’s primary residence or not. This is important, because if Mr English hasn’t met those criteria, then he in no way can qualify for a Wellington accommodation allowance AT ALL.
Here are the criteria:
(a) the extent of the MP’s parliamentary duties, and the amount of non-parliamentary time available to the MP to return ‘home’;
(b) the locations where the MP spends most of that non- parliamentary time;
(c) the locations where the MP’s current spouse or partner and family live, and where other dependent family members usually live (including where they spend most time, work, or attend school);
(d) the person in whose name (whether the MP, the MP’s spouse or partner, or some other individual or legal entity) each property is owned or rented, and the utilities (e.g., electricity, telephone) are supplied;
(e) the level of the MP’s financial commitment to meeting the financial outgoings on each residence, including property maintenance;
(f) the type of accommodation available to the MP at each residence (e.g., boarding, flatting, or full occupation), and who else lives there (other than the MP’s family);
(g) the availability of each residence for use by the MP at any time (e.g., whether it is rented out in periods of absence);
(h) the nature and extent of the MP’s ties to each local community in which he or she has a residence;
(i) the residence where the MP intends or expects to live should he or she cease to be an MP;
(j) the residence where the MP and members of his or her family are registered for electoral purposes; and
(k) for electorate MPs, the location of the electorate.
Each of these criteria is considered for every individual MP’s case. But if, as I said on Thursday that English signed a declaration that his primary residence is in Dipton, he must prove that he has met the above conditions.
Bill English owes the public a full explanation.