- Date published:
9:23 am, November 3rd, 2009 - 21 comments
Categories: bill english, john key, national/act government, parliamentary spending, slippery - Tags: MPs accommodation rort, Rodney Hide
Yesterday, John Key cleverly tried to reframe his ministers’ failure to obey his standards on use of perks:
“You don’t want 120 Members of Parliament who have the financial independence to be able to make the financial decisions that I make.
“It wouldn’t be the House of Representatives, we need people from all walks of life.”
Yes, yes. Very noble. But we’re not talking about giving MPs adequate remuneration so they don’t need to be independently wealthy to be MPs. We’re talking about Ministers (wealthy Ministers) using taxpayer funds to pay for ultra expensive overseas flights for their spouses against the expressly stated standards of the Prime Minister.
We’re not arguing here over what the salary for an MP should be to let anyone take up the office and insure against corruption. We’re talking about a guy, Hide, who is being paid quarter of a million dollars a year spending another $25,000 of taxpayer money (enough too get you to most European capitals and back in economy class ten times over) on flights for his girlfriend after Key had already said that ministers spouses must pay their own way.
Actually, this fake pleading poverty routine reminds me of the way Key and English tried to excuse English’s housing rort. ‘I took the money so my family could be together’ English growled. Key said that his ministers’ relationships would be at sake if Wellington-based ministers weren’t allowed to rort the out of town housing allowance.
You know, no-one ever explained (and no journalist ever asked) why it would be cheaper for English’s family to live in Dipton than Wellington – I would have thought such a move would add to Mary’s commuting costs to her medical practice in Wellington for one. Actually, he hasn’t bundled the family back to Dipton since giving back the money he rorted, eh? Guess he was lying about needing it, after all.
Returning to the spousal travel affair. I don’t have a problem with limited use of travel allowances for spouses, the rules allow for it (still don’t know how you spend $25K flying to Europe though). What I do have a problem with is Key setting a standard, claiming the moral high ground, and then signing off on his ministers using a loophole to get around it.