Nick pulls a Bill

Written By: - Date published: 3:39 pm, October 12th, 2009 - 16 comments
Categories: Media, national/act government - Tags: , , ,

Nick Smith has taken a leaf out of the Double Dipton school of politics, calling journalists and swearing at them when the coverage isn’t to his liking.

Now, to be fair to Smith, he’s got a point about the story the Dom published on Saturday. The story said Smith and six other MPs (all but one National) were leasing property they owned to the Parliamentary Service for their electoral offices and that somehow this was wrong. All the article could really try to claim was that the MPs were pocketing “substantial capital gains” (hmm, does that mean it’s an anti-rort when property prices fall?).

There doesn’t appear to be any rort here – it’s the same situation as the houses the Greens superannuation fund owned.

The MPs have a right to claim for the expense of these properties – there’s allowances for electoral offices and for out of town MPs’ costs of staying in Wellington – they’re legitimate work expenses. Unlike Bill English, these MPs are not exploiting a loophole to take money they are not entitled to. It doesn’t matter who owns the properties, as long as only market rents are being charged (which is where the Greens made a mistake, which they themselves discovered and corrected). Whereas Bill English wasn’t entitled to a cent of the hundreds of thousands of dollars he has taken over the years, these MPs and the Greens were entitled to claim market rents.

That aside, it’s not OK for ministers to try to bully the media whenever a story doesn’t go their way. When Nick Smith found himself losing his cool over this story, he should have taken some time get his temper under control then rung and explained how the system works and asked for a correction.

But no. There seems to be this sense in this government that they are in charge and everyone else better bloody well toe the line. It’s a bullying mentality that is reflected not only in English and Smith’s behavour towards the media but also Paula Bennett’s public bullying of beneficiaries using privileged information and David Garrett’s threats to prison guards opposing privatisation.

It’s commendable that Tracy Watkins chose to publish Smith’s vitriol, rather than be cowed into shameful silence as TVNZ and TV3 were when English rang to abuse them.

16 comments on “Nick pulls a Bill”

  1. Outofbed 1

    Smith’s abilty to get really angry very easily is legendary.
    He is not a very nice person

  2. gitmo 2

    More politicians troughing on the taxpayer as usual gorging at the public teat knows no political boundaries.

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    It’s a bullying mentality that is part and parcel of the political right. They’re all a bunch of authoritarians.

  4. HitchensFan 4

    He goes so bright red and spluttery – he must have terrible blood pressure problems.
    Nasty little person, he is.

  5. Herodotus 5

    DID the greens discover, correct and disclose their mistakes, from what has been reported you are being very generous with the english language.
    Can I remind you of the treatment of Erin Leigh.
    Perhaps it is the Wellington wind that does funny things to people, a bit like the Nth West wind in Chch

  6. Red Rosa 6

    Nick Smith’s credibility on both the ETS and ACC issues has taken a serious hit.

    The $ numbers are big for both, and the detail complex. Smith’s summaries for the general public are flawed if not misleading; to be charitable.

    It must be questioned whether he has any real grip on either of these portfolios. After all, this is the politician’s job – to grasp and explain the essentials of policy. Smith simply doesn’t seem to fully understand what he is doing.

    Maybe this explains his touchiness on the electorate offices question.

  7. You really shouldn’t have to swear while carrying out your job. That’s not professional behaviour and the Right Dishonourable Smith needs to be called on it.

    • Herodotus 7.1

      Agreed you should not have to, yet if you go to senior mgmtmt or board meetings. I have noticed over the years that the language has deterioated quite dramatically. Yet we allow that you can tell a cop where to go and there is little that can be done, or evan watch primetime TV. Perhaps we are just too old fashioned and language has evolved at a rate that has made you and I old relics of the past?

  8. toad 8

    Eddie, Nick Smith may not be as innocent as he claims.

    He says he spent $152,000 to make the property he bought usable as an electorate office. But was it his personal money, or another Parliamentary Service allowance, or a bit of both that paid that sum? And if a bit of both, how much of each?

    More argument here from me on that issue, and how it could have possibly not cost Nick Smith a cent personally to refurbish the building he purchased to be his electorate office.

    Could be another rort imo, And also may not be. But the onus is on Smith to put the facts of who paid for what in the public domain.

    And another reason for greater transparency overall re Parliamentary allowances.

    • Herodotus 8.1

      I would imagine that if we examimned all of these issues there maybe embarrassment by all (That is if politicians get embarrassed!!). I am sure most comply with the rules but would fail the test from the public e.g Entertainment allowance $12k. And some disclosure on pension schemes as I believe that there are more than the Greens who have personnel pension schemes that own property used by MP’s like what if any contributions are made by the individuals or are they funded by Parliamentary services rentals?

    • outofbed 8.2

      I thought he was on the bones of his arse till recently what with all the suing an all

  9. vto 9

    Eddie “It doesn’t matter who owns the properties, as long as only market rents are being charged ”

    You green/left fullas are so capitalist when it comes to your own pockets that you dont even recognise yourselves..

    it is all rather amusing and consistent over the years.

    • RedLogix 9.1

      You green/left fullas are so capitalist when it comes to your own pockets

      Prefer that we just go for a full metal jacket socialist solution and fund ourselves directly out of taxpayer funds? You’d damn us if we did, and damn us when we don’t.

      Amusing how you think that just because we believe in the power of collective action… that we are committed to poverty at the same time.

  10. felix 10

    In all fairness to that little worm Nick Smith if that was the extent of the “swearing” it’s pretty low level and uninventive.

    He said he works “bloody hard” and he’s not a “greedy bastard”. This is not the same as calling someone a “fucking cunt” like Bill English apparently did. It’s not in the same ballpark. It’s not even the same sport.

    Really Eddie, is that it? Did he even call anyone any names at all?

    Pick your battles, people. There’s plenty to criticise Smith about but this isn’t it.

  11. Marty G 11

    sorry, who’s the ‘bureaucrat’ in this situation? The MP? I’m not sure you know what the word means.

    You also don’t seem to understand that MPs are allowed to claim the cost of their electorate office, where their publicly-funded electorate staffer works. If you prevented the parties or the MPs being the owners of those offices, well they’re not going to provide them for free are they? Instead, Parliamentary service would just have to rent some other office for the electorate office and pay someone else the rent.

    As long as the parties or MPs are only getting market rent, there’s nothing wrong.

  12. RedLogix 12

    @Strathen,

    It’s my understanding that this kind of arrangement has been considered perfectly acceptable for decades. MP’s have had electorate offices for yonks, and Parliamentary Services have always paid the rent.

    The office is there for a number of reasons, primarily so that the MP and his/her staff can serve the public in that electorate. This is standard practice. Moreover the tenant (in this case the MP) has the right (as do all tenants) to choose what they regard as an appropriate location, standard of premises and terms of occupancy (such as signage rights).

    Now someone has to own that office and PS will pay the rent for it regardless of who owns it. As long as that rent is the market rate, the taxpayer has no further concern where the money goes.

    If the MP, or Party in question, chooses to own the same premises, and benefit from the long-term ownership thereof… they are not doing anything different to what tens of thousands of other property owners do in perfect legality and legitimacy every day of the week.

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