web analytics

Pecuniary interest 2

Written By: - Date published: 8:37 am, October 2nd, 2009 - 11 comments
Categories: bill english - Tags:

Bill English keeps claiming that he has “no pecuniary interest” in his family trust. What does that mean? A while back John A did a post on pecuniary interest. Time for Part 2 in the series.

As John A noted, the main case which seems to be cited in defining pecuniary interest (at least in Australia and in NZ by the Auditor General) is Downward v Babington, where such an interest is defined as a situation that will “give rise to an expectation which is not too remote of a gain or loss of money”. Brief extracts from a few other definitions I’ve encountered are here: “A direct interest related to money in an action or case” Black’s Law Dictionary 1131 (6th ed.1990), here: outcomes of which will or may affect their personal financial interests or those of their close associates, and here:
the opportunity, directly or indirectly, to profit or share in any profit…held by members of a person’s immediate family sharing the same household (the latter are more fully quoted in this comment).

So, clearly “pecuniary interest” is typically taken to include direct, indirect or shared profit, to the individual or to immediate family sharing the same household. In what possible world does Bill English not have a pecuniary interest in his own family trust? How can he get away with claiming this? It’s because he is using the term to mean “doesn’t have to be listed in the MP’s Register of Pecuniary Interests”. The criteria for listing a trust depends on a term with a much narrower definition. A trust only needs to be listed if the member has a “beneficial interest”: “an enforceable, proprietary interest in the trust property. Examples of a proprietary interest include ownership and a right to possession or occupation”. That turns out to be a definition so narrow that you can drive a truck round it, which is what Bill is doing.

In short, as normally defined Bill certainly has a pecuniary interest in his family trust, but in terms of our Parliament’s rules he probably does not. It actually gets more complicated than this, with different kinds of beneficial interest – if you want all the gory details there is an excellent summary by Vernon Small here. I’m in complete agreement with Vernon that this whole episode highlights a gaping hole in the rules:

No-one is expecting MPs to undergo the Spanish Inquisition. But if the intent of the register is to keep politicians honest and maintain the public’s faith in our democratic institutions and their reputations, then this hole in the disclosure regime – including matters of control of a trust – should be closed.

11 comments on “Pecuniary interest 2 ”

  1. burt 1

    So overspending on election advertising and winning the election would be counted as gaining a pecuniary advantage because of the direct benefit of the PM salary VS leader of opposition salary ?

    • ghostwhowalksnz 1.1

      So its OK when you steal the money instead of paying the GST ( still unpaid) and lose the election.
      The Auditor General only found ONE party didnt use these funds for electioneering and that was JAP.

    • burt 1.2

      ghostwhowalksnz

      No it’s not alright.

      National should have been prosecuted over that but sadly some other parties self servingly validated themselves and in the process also gave National (and ACT) a free pass.

    • burt 1.3

      ghostwhowalksnz

      I think you need to look at my position on the Labour-led govt again, look carefully at what has motivated my dissent. It is a lack of integrity, a lack of accountability and prevalence of self serving use of power for their own agenda of advancing the interests of ‘the party’ ahead of the people who they serve.

      Watch carefully as the National-led govt start to head that way because over time they will and you will find that all my previous comments with Labour crossed out and National written in with crayon will be applicable.

      Please if you ever perceive that I’m applying a different standard to National than I would have applied to Labour call me on it. Because you know that I’ll be doing that to others who have justified all sorts of things by Labour that they think are unacceptable from National.

      I’m not a National supporter more than one of my politically aware friends have called me an anarchist over the years because I refuse to align myself with a flag based only on it’s colour. That’s not to say I don’t have an ideology, but accountability and transparency in govt are more important than the ideology of the govt de-jour.

  2. ak 2

    burt: …accountability and transparency in govt are more important than the ideology of the govt de-jour.

    By George burt, admirable, what, and couldn’t agree more old chap: proper accounting and transparency is all. If only the Reich had had a stout fellow like yourself keeping proper count, there wouldn’t be these niggling doubts still beggaring us all to this very day (I’ll swear those damned Aushwich totals are still out by at least seventeen).

    • burt 2.1

      ak

      You prove my point very well. Do you think the people who voted in the National Socialist govt you refer to would have accepted that behaviour from the ‘opposition’ parties? Cheers for reminding us just how poor peoples judgement can be when they put ideology ahead of accountability and transparency.

  3. ak 3

    (….observes with numb fascination the opaque sentence-like structures limping across the screen in a cruel parody of logical discourse…..)

  4. SPC 4

    If the housing allowance claimed is the rent charged by the Trust to house Bill and his family (and others of this same family are the beneficiares of the Trust) is a larger amount than the interest payments on the ownership of the property this provides a reason for the Trust arrangement rather than declaring ownership outright and only be able to claim the lesser interest payments as housing cost.

    Another reason for the Wellington house being held by Trust ownership is that if Bill does not actually own a house in Dipton (a wider English Family Trust?), it would be harder to claim he was primarily based in Dipton if he and his immediate family only owned a property in Wellington.

    • Ianmac 4.1

      SPC: Interesting thought. has anyone asked Bill to PROVE that he himself OWNs the house at Dipton? If it is OK to say that he doesn’t own the Wellington house because a Trust does, then does the same apply to the Dipton house? Maybe the English Trust does, so that he cannot claim it as his Primary Residence? Huh? 😯

  5. SPC 5

    The only evidence I know of so far, is that he alone pays for the phone at the Dipton residence but his wife AND he share the phone at their Karori house (possibly as she works in Wellington she does not get to the house at Dipton much). Thus indicates he only really lives with his family at the Karori residence and his place at Dipton is not one they use much.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Twenty highlights of 2020
    As we welcome in the new year, our focus is on continuing to keep New Zealanders safe and moving forward with our economic recovery. There’s a lot to get on with, but before we say a final goodbye to 2020, here’s a quick look back at some of the milestones ...
    2 weeks ago

  • Cook Islanders to resume travel to New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown have announced passengers from the Cook Islands can resume quarantine-free travel into New Zealand from 21 January, enabling access to essential services such as health. “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ COVID ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Supporting communities and landowners to grow employment opportunities
    Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects, Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan has announced. It is estimated some 400-plus jobs will be created with employment opportunities in ecology, restoration, trapping, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Border exception for some returning international tertiary students
    The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students, degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception will allow students to return to New Zealand in stages from April 2021. “Our top priority continues ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Tiwai deal gives time for managed transition
    Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New member for APEC Business Advisory Council
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). The leader of each APEC economy appoints three private sector representatives to ABAC. ABAC provides advice to leaders annually on business priorities. “ABAC helps ensure that APEC’s work programme is informed by business community perspectives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Govt’s careful economic management recognised
    The Government’s prudent fiscal management and strong policy programme in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic have been acknowledged by the credit rating agency Fitch. Fitch has today affirmed New Zealand’s local currency rating at AA+ with a stable outlook and foreign currency rating at AA with a positive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Additional actions to keep COVID-19 out of NZ
    The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • 19 projects will clean up and protect waterways
    $36 million of Government funding alongside councils and others for 19 projects Investment will clean up and protect waterways and create local jobs Boots on the ground expected in Q2 of 2021 Funding part of the Jobs for Nature policy package A package of 19 projects will help clean up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand Government acknowledges 175th anniversary of Battle of Ruapekapeka
    The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Ruapekapeka represents an opportunity for all New Zealanders to reflect on the role these conflicts have had in creating our modern nation, says Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan. “The Battle at Te Ruapekapeka Pā, which took ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Better care for babies with tongue-tie
    Babies born with tongue-tie will be assessed and treated consistently under new guidelines released by the Ministry of Health, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. Around 5% to 10% of babies are born with a tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia, in New Zealand each year. At least half can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison over
    The prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison is over, with all remaining prisoners now safely and securely detained, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says. The majority of those involved in the event are members of the Mongols and Comancheros. Five of the men are deportees from Australia, with three subject to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Pre-departure COVID-19 test for travellers from the UK and the US from 15 January
    Travellers from the United Kingdom or the United States bound for New Zealand will be required to get a negative test result for COVID-19 before departing, and work is underway to extend the requirement to other long haul flights to New Zealand, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. “The new PCR test requirement, foreshadowed last ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • PM congratulates New Year Honour recipients
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has added her warm congratulations to the New Zealanders recognised for their contributions to their communities and the country in the New Year 2021 Honours List. “The past year has been one that few of us could have imagined. In spite of all the things that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • David Parker congratulates New Year 2021 Honours recipients
    Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment David Parker has congratulated two retired judges who have had their contributions to the country and their communities recognised in the New Year 2021 Honours list. The Hon Tony Randerson QC has been appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Year’s Honours highlights outstanding Pacific leadership through challenging year
    Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says the New Year’s Honours List 2021 highlights again the outstanding contribution made by Pacific people across Aotearoa. “We are acknowledging the work of 13 Pacific leaders in the New Year’s Honours, representing a number of sectors including health, education, community, sports, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Supporting seniors to embrace technology
    The Government’s investment in digital literacy training for seniors has led to more than 250 people participating so far, helping them stay connected. “COVID-19 has meant older New Zealanders are showing more interest in learning how to use technology like Zoom and Skype so they can to keep in touch ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago