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Poor Bill

Written By: - Date published: 8:34 am, September 30th, 2009 - 33 comments
Categories: bill english, john key - Tags: , ,

Bill English is teetering on the edge. National spinners are claiming that he has done what is needed to “close the issue down”. Labour are going to keep pushing. National’s next step will be to run a “poor Bill” defence. “Poor Bill has paid it back, what more can he do?”, “Poor Bill was just trying to keep his family together”, and so on. Those within National that are still standing by Bill will try and get public sympathy to swing in behind him.

So let’s be forewarned and recognise the “poor Bill” arguments for the spin that they are. English has not done enough to “close the issue down”. Not by a long shot. At the very least he needs to be stood down from his Ministerial positions while the Auditor General investigates.

Recall that under Labour, Ministers Marian Hobbs and Phillida Bunkle were in a very similar situation, accused of rorting allowances for Wellington accommodation. Both immediately stood down from Ministerial duties during investigation. The Auditor General declared their payments legal, but Bunkle never regained her ministerial position, and Hobbs voluntarily paid the money back (ALL of it). At that time National were busy applying the pressure, and quick to claim a “victory”:

National leader Jenny Shipley says pressure from the Opposition forced the resignations from the pair’s Ministerial duties. Shipley says the resignations are a victory for the Opposition’s pursuit of the accomodation allowance issue.

Bill English was in the thick of it (hat tip Joe):

Today’s Evening Post headline sets the tone for the Government for the year: “Ministers face legal probe”. When have we ever seen a headline like that in a newspaper? Two Ministers face a legal probe for a couple of simple reasons. One reason is that Marian Hobbs told Wellington Central people that she was a Wellington Central resident, while she was claiming an allowance for being an out-of-town MP…

So when the “Poor Bill” spin revs up, remember two things. First, Bill and National were quick to attack Ministers in the previous government in a similar situation. Second, Helen Clark held her Ministers accountable in a way that it is quite obvious that John Key does not. Don’t buy the spin. English has had enough from the public purse, he doesn’t deserve a free pass too.

33 comments on “Poor Bill ”

  1. Tigger 1

    I see that Audrey Young is trying to give Blingish some outs.

    “Fortunately however, three Speakers have accepted that his primary residence is in Dipton.”
    And? Just because you got away with a lie doesn’t mean it turns that into the truth.

    “But is there any more Mr English can do? Yes. He could implore the Auditor-General to review the case. If that office agreed with him that he had acted within the rules but that some of the rules need greater clarification for the protection of MPs’ reputations and their families, then he would have done all that he could.”
    No, all he could do is come clean, admit that Dipton isn’t his home for the purposes of the rules or, as the post points out, stand down while it is investigated.

    Once again, it’s do as I say, not as I do for this lot…

    • toad 1.1

      Yeah, three Speakers have accepted that his primary residence is Dipton because he has made a declaration that it was.

      It’s a bit like someone applying for a domestic purposes benefit. If they declare that they are not living in a de facto relationship, Work and Income take them at their word. If evidence later emerges that the declaration was false thy ahve to pay the money back and likely get prosecuted as well.

      The respective Speakers were similarly quite entitled to take English at his word in this regard, without further investigation, but that doesn’t mean he was entitled to receive ANY of the money he rorted..

  2. JohnDee 2

    I’m not sure for how long Bill’s family has lived in wellington exclusively but from when ever that was is the time and amount of money he has rorted the tax payers of New Zealand and that’s how much he needs to pay back.

    • Yep as soon as he paid back the first cent he opened the door to ongoing questions of further liability.

      Morality aside (and that seems like a given with this administration), it would appear to be a serious tactical error.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      pay that +interest

  3. greenfly 3

    Adoring Clutha/Southland fans of English are mailing the Editor of the Southland Times with their (carefully scripted) ‘Bill’s an honest, hardworking Southlander’ letters already. Curiously, those letters are fewer in number than those from people who can not only smell the rat, but can see it right in front of them. I’m expecting a tsunami, rather than a flood of blue-blooded ‘letters of support’, in the next while.

    • Tigger 3.1

      Great heads up greenfly. Will have to hunt down a copy of the Times!

      i don’t doubt that Blingish is hardworking or a Southlander at heart. But like Bill himself, these people are confusing where he comes from or his ‘sense of place’ with where he lives and has lived.

    • burt 3.2

      Heading back to souhtland with a “I rorted the city slickers” campaign Bill we be very popular. Mayor of Invercargill perhaps ?

  4. aj 4

    Letter from yesterday, names deleted:


    “—- ——-‘s claim that Bill English has served the south well for 20 years (letters, September 25) is quite laughable.

    Mr English is the most ineffectual MP Southland has ever had. He has never stood up for Southland on any issue and the latest road funding will be no different.

    There is no doubt that he lives permanently in Wellington and his recent manipulation of the accommodation allowance to claim tens of thousands of dollars from the taxpayer is shameful. While claiming this allowance, he wallowed in his own sanctimonious hypocrisy, urging everyone else to practise restraint.

    He has not acted in a way that upholds the highest ethical standard that is fitting of a minister of finance.


    Other letters here http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/

    • Daveosaurus 4.1

      “Mr English is the most ineffectual MP Southland has ever had”

      Whoever said that has obviously forgotten Rob Munro. Which is understandable, considering what an utterly forgettable MP he was..

  5. burt 5

    Bill should resign, he has shown utter contempt for what is fair and reasonable and may yet be proven to have broken the law.

  6. aj 7

    Heh – can you imagine the screaming if it were Cullen rather than English.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Yes, I can. We had enough of such puerile BS from National/ACT during the last government that it’s really not that much of a stretch to imagine what they’d be up to now if it was a Labour minister.

  7. Craig Glen Eden 8

    English should resign but he wont, the Tories will go for the sympathy line and hope this all dies a natural death. Never mind the poor tax payer, never mind that what he has done is at the least morally wrong. English has thrown the brown stuff at others now its his turn. He has no else to blame but himself, he did the dealings for his own gain.
    The whole leave Bill alone line does not wash, I didn’t see the National Party s give public support to the women that they took education allowances from in the media. Apparently they were greedy people, so what does that make BiIl?

  8. Ianmac 9

    Toad said:”If they declare that they are not living in a de facto relationship, Work and Income take them at their word.”
    Agreed, but look what happens if they are shock/horror found to have a boyfriend. The full weight crashes down as maybe it should, unless it is Poor Bill who made the declaration. After all he is in a superior position and therefore the rules don’t really count do they? Huh?

  9. Ianmac 10

    Just practising. ‘:grin:’

  10. Ianmac 11

    Yep. Wonder if my Mac doesn’t match? Tried a new gravatar. Will see if that works.

  11. Ianmac 12

    Perhaps just copy the image? 😈

  12. Ianmac 13

    Aha Outofbed! Just copy/paste the image. 😀 but no Gravatar

  13. outofbed 14

    Can’t copy and paste it for some reason
    newly using linux though
    must be doing something wrong

  14. outofbed 15


  15. SPC 16

    Well to be fair the whole point of the out of Wellington allowance is for the cost of running a second home – one in the electorate and one in Wellington.

    I personally do not see why being primarily based in the electorate should be the eligibility criteria for the allowance.

    The electorate MP will have two places of housing costs because of the nature of his job, wherever his primary residence is. That said if the MP uses the allowance to own a second home they would be well compensated over time.

    Thus I support such MP’s from out of Wellington getting a standard $24,000 (and no more for Ministers) pa – but where these MP’s own a house in Wellington and their electorate the “secondary housing allowance” is paid to them for no more than 10 years.

    Bill English seems to feel he is primarily a son of his parents and a sibling to the one continuing with the running of the family farm (family Trust owned?), rather than a husband and father to his wife and children in Wellington. That, or as the only property he provides for them of his own (or his own family) is the family farm property that is his home for them. His case is unusual in that he may not own a house in his electorate or Wellington – because of Trust arrangements for the family farm and his and his wife’s arrangements.

    As for poor Bill, a man with his income the last 20 years and his wife’s and living free in Dipton and on allowance in Wellington, if that family is not collectively worth well over a million he should not be our Minister of Finance as he is unable to either save and or invest well enough for the job. I hope for our sake he is, which would explain the Trust arrangements.

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