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Much ado about nothing

Written By: - Date published: 8:39 am, March 13th, 2021 - 18 comments
Categories: chris bishop, parliamentary spending, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, uncategorized - Tags:

Poor Chris Bishop.  He is clearly smarting the loss of the Hutt South seat to Labour’s Ginny Andersen and is trying to manufacture scandals.

The essence of the latest scandal he has manufactured is as follows.

The New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union owns an office in the Hutt.  It used to be owned by the Labour Party.

There is some sort of ancient sweetheart deal whereby the Union leases office space to the Labour Party.  The Party then leases the office to Parliamentary Services so that Andersen and her staff have somewhere to perform their duties.  The amount paid is much less than market rates.

The Parliamentary Services deal with Labour is considered favourable to the taxpayer.  In fact:

The arrangement you mention has been brought to our attention before. We can confirm that the rent paid for the member’s office is substantially below market value and represents a very good deal for the taxpayer,” said a Parliamentary Service spokesman.

On the face of it the deal is a bit cute.  The KISS principle applies.  The union should rent the office to Andersen ar market rates and then, if it thinks this is in the interests of its members, it may then decide to donate some of the rental money to the Labour Party.

Should political parties own an office and then rent it to an electorate MP?

Why not.  Surely the only relevant consideration is if the taxpayer is receiving value for money.

And, as Bishop is hinting, is this unfair to National?

Well for the year ending April 30, 2019, which until the 2020 financial year was the best year I can recall for the left, Labour received $783,919.64 in donations and National received $1,221,867.08.  It used to be that National’s donations were dominated by restauranteurs who would host expensive dinners and then declare the proceeds in the restauranteur’s name.  More recently donors to National appear to have partitioned donations to avoid disclosure although ensuring that feng shue was observed.  There are a myriad of techniques used by National.  Labour’s are more straight forward with donations of art by well known progressive artists being a significant contributor.

Bishop’s proposition is crazy.  Why shouldn’t a generous benefactor, be they left wing or right wing, hire out their premises to an MP and their staff, and then if they feel motivated, make a donation of some of the proceeds?

Bishop knows this.  He just took the opportunity to scratch some reactionary anti politician itches amongst the public.

The ability to smear a union was a bonus.

The National Party has shown how they have moved away from more straight forward donation techniques to more obtuse and difficult to understand methods.  As an example in 2020 Bishop declared $39,549.87 in donations for his electorate campaign all from one source, the New Zealand National Party.  If it wants true transparency it should show where local donations are coming from, rather than centralising them so that larger donation disclosure rules apply.

This “scandal” really is much ado about nothing.

I can understand the ultra cautious Labour Party hierarchy ending the arrangement but in legal terms all that National has done is cost the taxpayer a lot more money.

18 comments on “Much ado about nothing ”

  1. Anne 1

    Who is kidding who? Given National's past in this field you would think they would have the presence of mind to shut up. They have been into sneaky rackets going back to the 1970s and 80s. Here's an example:

    https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0609/S00262.htm

    • tc 1.1

      The only 'presence of mind's being exercised is with the msm who keep repeating and not critically reporting.

      Bishop's seen to do well on that count. Brian Tamaki's full of it.

  2. Sabine 2

    So both sides do it. Now should it be done? Probably not and if only to prevent such storms in teacups.

  3. Jester 3

    Chris Bishop seems to like barking at every passing car.

  4. tc 4

    Carry on chris, keep up the work that DP culture Collins expects.

  5. bwaghorn 5

    If it isn't dodgey then why have they changed it now bishop has pointed it out??

  6. mickysavage 6

    The funny thing is that Bishop has actually potentially increased Labour's funding. Instead of leasing the office out for a significantly reduced amount Labour and/or the Union can now lease the office out for a market rental and pocket the balance …

  7. Pataua4life 7

    Most transparent, corrupt Govt ever.

  8. Peter 8

    Chris Bishop needs to be congratulated. His continuing efforts to make himself out to be an scumbag opportunistic hypocrite are succeeding. Well done that man.

  9. Sanctuary 9

    We have the film….

  10. Sacha 10

    Cmon, this is almost the definition of 'beltway'. Bigger fish to fry.

  11. Bazza64 11

    Bishop just doing what opposition politicians do, the deal was a bit dodgy but on a very small scale. Good that it has now been tidied up. Both parties have done this sort of thing in the past & the more they are ferreted out the better.

    The labour MP who used the office seemed to take the whole thing in good stride & when questioned by the reporter gave a very good answer, maybe slightly evasive but using her political skills to best advantage. She seemed very positive & probably a good MP.

    If the Nats had a similar office deal most on here would consider it dodgy.

    • Ed1 11.1

      I haven't followed this story, but when it originally rose it appeared that the sale of the building some time ago may have been subject to an existing lease to the Labour Party at a particular level – and over time that became lower than normal market rates. If that was the case then there was nothing dodgy at all, and it is certainly not unusual for some owners not to review rents as aggressively as others. So no, nothing remotely dodgy has been demonstrated, but from above it does now appear that the fuss by Bishop will result in no change to the net cost to the Labour Party, but higher cost to the government and more income to the property owner – all entirely consistent with National's policies . . .

  12. RP Mcmurphy 12

    Ginny Anderson is a very good MP as anyone who has watched her in the house will attest. Bishop is leading with his chin because he is really chagrined that GA opened a can of whipass on him at the last election and he has nothing else.

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