Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Bill's Troubles

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  • Matthew Poole,

    An important point with trusts and when there might be 'stripback' is timing. I suspect that if you legitimately shifted funds to a trust while the business was all above board then it may not occur?

    It's three years since I learned about trusts, and I'm sure the lawyers around here will correct me if I'm wrong, but my recollection is that transfers into a trust are at risk for several years after the gifting if there's a bankruptcy. Between the official assignee and the courts there's fairly broad scope for trusts operated by the likes of Mr Blue Chip and others to be stripped of assets.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3889 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    A secondary residence, available only to electorate MPs

    I'd argue against that as well. Green List MPs (of which all of them are) seem to have spread themselves around the country and are doing local work as well as central government work. Dunedin has also had a National party list MP open up an office and do work in town, which gives an alternative to Labour who could put a monkey up and win both Dunedin seats. We wouldn't want to discourage list MPs from acting as quasi-electorate MPs where it benefits the electorate.

    Seems to me that the ones who shouldn't get the allowance, are the (list or electorate) MPs who live in Wellington. In total, we must be talking about ~2 million a year. So fiddling the rules around to save a few hundred thousand seems like a waste of everyone's time.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6147 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    Andy Fraser;

    yeah, sorry about that. I realised what you meant but was providing the quote because I felt a little lazy for not doing so in the first place.
    I was a bit grumpy about the whole Double Dipton thing and tapped out my reply a little hastily :-)

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 152 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Double Dipton

    We likes that.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6147 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    I don't know what Mary is doing nowadays, but when I knew her she was working for the Newtown Union Health Service -- not exactly Wellywood's answer to Harley Street.

    She's in Thorndon now, Craig. Hardly the ghetto.

    What gets me is that English continues to benefit from antediluvian attitudes to gender and earning power that just happen to have been stripped away from every public entitlement. When I lose my job at the end of this week (thanks in part to public-sector cutbacks), I'll have to fall back on my wife's income while I desperately search for another job. She, of course, earns far less than either of the Englishes. And we don't have our own house, either. Let alone two of them.

    Meanwhile, English keeps going on about parsimony and his own family's needs, without even the slightest clue of how obscene it sounds coming from someone of his means.

    It's particularly bad timing in the light of this. I mean, come on, we tried this in the '90s and it was a fucking disaster. Contracting out to the private sector ends up costing much more than doing things "in house", and raises the obvious question: qui bono? And why?

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 414 posts Report Reply

  • Sue,

    the
    "the relatively small sum at stake in his accommodation expenses problem."

    is double what most benficiaries make in a year

    they have to declare any and all income including savings (anything except kiwisaver counts) interests in trusts and assets and their benefits are reduced accordingly.

    and any chance in anything and you have to tell winz asap

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 468 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    Absolutely, Sue. And the fact that English seems able to pay everything back so quickly shows just how much he must have stashed away already. Seriously -- if you can pay back your entitlements with that little fuss you don't need them.

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 414 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    It's more than the median income, for Cthulhu's sake.

    Cthulu-Southland's sake to be precise...

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 565 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Personally, I'd be much happier if MPs and Ministers got their housing allowances abolished and replaced with a one-off pay hike.

    How about giving each party $250k for each elected member, with a proviso that they account for how it's spent.

    Then they could have each MP live on an average workers wage and spend the rest on campaigning, or alternately have the leader live in a palatial Remuara mansion with the MPs accomodated in the servants quarters. Or the stables.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4359 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    can be used to keep bankrupts and other swindlers living in "manner they have become accustomed"

    Whilst there is no doubt some bankrupts are swindlers and vice versa this phrase is very unfortunate. People go bankrupt for many reasons are most are not due to swindling.

    As a business owner I am also pretty sensitive to the risks one runs as a business grows and clients' insist on contracts that load huge risks and liabilities in a one way direction. Having mitigation strategies such as insurance and trusts is not swindling, it is the only sane, rational approach.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1615 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    the
    "the relatively small sum at stake in his accommodation expenses problem."

    is double what most benficiaries make in a year

    I meant in the context of the economy and the government's spending. For most actual people, yes, it is a hell of a lot of money.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    "the relatively small sum at stake in his accommodation expenses problem."
    is double what most benficiaries make in a year

    The great majority of beneficiaries must get by on under $15k p.a, including any rent allowances.

    Also English's Government has quietly halved the allowance of respite care for the elderly, from two weeks to one. Nicely timed to kick in at midwinter. For many of the old and frail in the colder parts that still attempt to do for themselves, it's been a tough one.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3326 posts Report Reply

  • Public Servant on a tea-break.,

    "Having mitigation strategies such as insurance and trusts is not swindling, it is the only sane, rational approach."

    I quite agree with you Don, there is a place for this sort of thing. A division between business and your home.

    I can't see that place in relation to Bill English's house though, seriously he is the National Party MP for Clutha-Southland. That is a job for life, the electorate has returned its National Party MP since the party came into existence in 1938 with huge majorities. The National Party could stand a concrete block with a blue rosette, and if it didn't win over its nearest rival by over 10,000 votes there would be a re-count.

    What possible financial risk could Bill English be facing that needs his house to be in a trust?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2008 • 67 posts Report Reply

  • Andy Fraser,

    Matthew Poole @ 12:41

    I do find it obscene that there's an untaxable allowance available to Ministers that is greater than the median national income, and that even backbench MPs can claim one that's barely less than the minimum wage ($12.5*40*52=$26,000, against a standard MP's allowance of $24,500).

    Nail, head.

    Invercargill • Since Jun 2009 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Public Servant on a tea-break.,

    "the electorate has returned its National Party MP since the party came into existence in 1938"

    Actually, for most of that time the electorate was Wallace (which was the electorate English originally entered parliament for. I just can't have details wrong on the internet.

    "that's barely less than the minimum wage ($12.5*40*52=$26,000, against a standard MP's allowance of $24,500)."

    Isn't an allowance tax free, unlike wages?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2008 • 67 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Martin,

    What possible financial risk could Bill English be facing that needs his house to be in a trust?

    Not him I suspect,rather his wife. Presumably she is self employed and along with most other self employed professionals has separated the home from the business should the potential of liabilities she causes...or others cause...be realised.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 184 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Absolutely, Sue. And the fact that English seems able to pay everything back so quickly shows just how much he must have stashed away already. Seriously -- if you can pay back your entitlements with that little fuss you don't need them.

    Um, Caleb, I paid a modest but reasonably substantial tax bill -- as often happens to freelancers who don't earn a regular income -- with "little fuss" by dipping into my savings. Would you care to make any generalizations about my probity from that?

    She's in Thorndon now, Craig. Hardly the ghetto.

    To be blunt, Caleb, so fucking what? I'd like to introduce you to some medical professionals of my acquaintance who'd piss their pants laughing at the idea that a medical degree is a license to print money, but that's really missing the point. It is 2009, after all, and I'm frankly gob-smacked at anyone dog-whistling the idea that there's anything untoward about an MP's spouse working. I'd like to think we're a little beyond the idea that an MP's wife's pace is in the kitchen making lammingtons for the electorate AGM.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Isn't an allowance tax free, unlike wages?

    Yes. Hence my use of the word "untaxable" in the same paragraph. So once you account for tax, the housing allowance alone puts backbenchers in a better financial situation than is accorded to those on the minimum wage. Even with rebates and everything else the person on the minimum wage still loses far more than $1500 to the tax man.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3889 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Martin,

    I'd like to introduce you to some medical professionals of my acquaintance who'd piss their pants laughing at the idea that a medical degree is a license to print money

    A quick google and a range of anywhere from 150k to 250k per annum is indicated for a GP.

    It is 2009, after all, and I'm frankly gob-smacked at anyone dog-whistling the idea that there's anything untoward about an MP's spouse working.

    I'm not sure I have seen anyone moaning about her working...rather the top up English thinks is needed from the taxpayer so that the English family can afford to live in Wellington.
    Seems a gross of just under half a million a year just doesn't cut it.

    I'd like to think we're a little beyond the idea that an MP's wife's pace is in the kitchen making lammingtons for the electorate AGM.

    Dog whistle indeed.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 184 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Dunedin has also had a National party list MP open up an office and do work in town, which gives an alternative to Labour who could put a monkey up and win both Dunedin seats.

    I have to disagree - after all that's how Richard Walls got in .... the concrete block analogy is probably true though

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2031 posts Report Reply

  • Sue,

    Also am i wrong maybe but didn't david lange point out that all this was possible about 20 years ago.

    yet no government has ever seen fit to tidy the rules up a bit.
    Yes MPs being with their family's and partners is important, it just seems so excessive.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 468 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    Perhaps we need an allowance for MPs that live in Wellington, yet have electorate consituencies elsewhere. In addition to the budget they have for their constituancy office, they could get a "visting my electorate" allowance. This would be lower than a Wellington housing allowance for MPs who actually live in a different electorate.

    And it would have enabled English to move his whanau to Wellington, whilst still getting an allowance that could assist the costs of doing electorate work, without needing to stretch the definition of "Where I Live" beyond any sensible definition.

    List MPs who live in Wellington would not get this, and in practice they tend to adopt constituencies local to where they live anyway.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 446 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Peter Martin:

    Sorry but I just don't see what Mary English's presumed income -- or that of any other Parliamentary spouse -- has to do with anything. If anyone in Parliament wants to complain that they find it hard to make ends meet on their far from stingy salaries, my first act (when I'd finished laughing and changing into dry underwear) would be to give 'em the phone number of a budget advisor.

    yet no government has ever seen fit to tidy the rules up a bit.

    And yet, the rules could be changed PDQ to strip Philip Field of his free travel... Not saying it shouldn't have happened, but its funny how quickly they can move when it comes to dealing to a convicted sleaze nobody was sad to see the back of...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW,

    It's more than the median income, for Cthulhu's sake.

    Cthulu-Southland's sake to be precise...

    Holy Molyneux! Likes that one too.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 777 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Hannah,

    Perhaps we need an allowance for MPs that live in Wellington, yet have electorate consituencies elsewhere. In addition to the budget they have for their constituancy office, they could get a "visting my electorate" allowance.

    Wouldn't that be the standard parliamentary business allowance for staying away from home?

    Problem is that, in order for to qualify for it in their electorate, an MP would have to admit that Wellington was their primary residence, which would mean they wouldn't be eligible for housing allowance for a house in Wellington.

    [It may also be that electorate MPs aren't eligible for it within their electorate, but I doubt it]

    I'd assume that the Wellington allowance is more valuable than any daily allowance an MP would get for travelling to their electorate for a few days every week or two.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 223 posts Report Reply

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