Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Bill's Troubles

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  • Max Call,

    I am getting a little sick of the line he has repeated that runs something like 'I'm just trying to keep my family together'.
    Is an accommodation supplement of $45k a year required for him to do that?

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

  • Andy Fraser,

    'I'm just trying to keep my family together'.

    If thats actually true, we'll either see his family split apart, or conclude he can manage to live off his ministerial salary.

    I'm waiting for any comment from Mr Perkbuster too.

    Invercargill • Since Jun 2009 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    "At all times my decisions have been driven by my desire to keep my family together and provide them with as much stability as possible. It's now clear that the system has struggled to deal with my circumstances."

    from
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10600100

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

  • Max Call,

    I'm waiting for any comment from Mr Perkbuster too

    has any media asked him? does anyone know?

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

  • Andy Fraser,

    Max @ 11:28

    I was wondering about the sincerity of Bill English, not the accuracy of that quote

    Invercargill • Since Jun 2009 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    Mrs English is a highly-paid medical professional. You would think that having one highly-paid adult in the average household would ensure a comfortable lifestyle for the family. Bill English goes on about "having breakfast" with his kids. I wonder who looks after said kids? Do they see their parents other than in the morning? Does the taxpayer pay for child care as well because it seems both parents must be really quite busy out there making money? Most senior MP's work 14 hour days. Maybe he'll have to become a full-time house hubby instead?

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 269 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Is an accommodation supplement of $45k a year required for him to do that?

    Probably not, but if you really want to go there I don't see why MPs really need heavily subsidized housing in the first place. If rental property on the open market in Wellington is too much for damn Ministers of the Crown (or backbenchers who aren't exactly on the minimum wage themselves), how does anyone else manage?

    Mrs English is a highly-paid medical professional. You would think that having one highly-paid adult in the average household would ensure a comfortable lifestyle for the family. Bill English goes on about "having breakfast" with his kids. I wonder who looks after said kids? Does the taxpayer pay for child care as well because it seems both parents must be really quite busy out there making money? Maybe he'll have to become a full-time house hubby instead?

    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. Which is totally beside the point, do you really want to start getting into speculating about "appropriate" careers for politicians spouses? I don't.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11784 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Probably not, but if you really want to go there I don't see why MPs really need heavily subsidized housing in the first place. If rental property on the open market in Wellington is too much for damn Ministers of the Crown (or backbenchers who aren't exactly on the minimum wage themselves), how does anyone else manage?

    To be fair, Craig, anyone who's required to live away from home by their employment will reasonably expect their employer to provide accommodation. This applies at any level.
    What stinks is English moving his entire family to Wellington and then claiming that his "home" is in Dipton. Home is, quite clearly, Wellington, because that's where his wife and children reside. The mechanations of the trust just make it stink more, rather than less.

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

  • Samuel Scott,

    I love the idea that the "system has struggled to deal with my circumstances". Isn't that the opposite of what happened. ie the system grossly overcompensated someone who's 'circumstance' was that he lives in a fancy house and earns lots of money.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 293 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    I'd really rather that Bill English was giving his full attention to the economy, rather fire-fighting over the relatively small sum at stake in his accommodation expenses problem.

    I should point out that to most people, $42,000 a year is a substantial sum of money.

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

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1625 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Probably not, but if you really want to go there I don't see why MPs really need heavily subsidized housing in the first place.

    I don't mind the subsidy. I think the new system they've set up is a bit on the high side, but these people have to live in Wellington, and I don't think they should have to sell their homes in their electorate, so fair enough.

    It's the way that he seems to have lost all pecuniary interest in the trust that owns his house over Xmas that concerns me. Maybe its legal, and he's moving his assets into a family trust to avoid future tax when he wants to pass it to his kids.

    However, given the great big salary he gets, and the way he's stomping all over pay rises in the public sector, I think he would have been smarter to have turned down the $48K when it became available, taken the standard $24K, and not got himself into the dodgy limelight that he's in now. Appearances matter in politics, after all.

    When he ended up standing knee deep in shit that Labour threw at him, I think he should have found a way to take the Trust details off the table. Labour offered him a confidential briefing with one of their MPs I seem to recall, as much as it might have raised bile at the time, maybe he'll want that offer back now.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6150 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    To be fair, Craig, anyone who's required to live away from home by their employment will reasonably expect their employer to provide accommodation.

    Up to a point, Matthew. The BH moved up here from Wellington six months before we could sell the house -- the company put him up in a motel, generously paid all our moving costs (with a far from extravagant ceiling) but they didn't become our landlord or effectively subsidize the mortgage on our home. Personally, I'd be much happier if MPs and Ministers got their housing allowances abolished and replaced with a one-off pay hike. Then, they can live in a shack or a palace -- don't much care, but they've got to live within their means (or to the limits of their credit) like everyone else.

    And I also think it's fair comment to note both Labour and National have made much political hay out of condemning "cultures of waste and extravagance" and "management greed" in the public sector. Time to open up and eat your own shit, bitches.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11784 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    What stinks is English moving his entire family to Wellington and then claiming that his "home" is in Dipton.

    This to me seems like the obvious test - is it really that difficult? You have a "first" house which is your main home (various quantitative tests could be put in place) which the taxpayer has nothing to do with. Any secondray home, either in Wellington or an electorate that is necessary only because of your work as an MP can then be subsidised.

    Am I missing the nasty fishhooks in that somewhere?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1720 posts Report Reply

  • David Ritchie,

    Given that the rest of the family work / study in Wellington, can any tell me if they all decamp to Dipton for the duration of Parliament's recess?

    Wellingtron • Since Nov 2006 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Maybe part of the issue here is the conflict between being an electorate MP and a cabinet minister - in an MMP world there's scope for cabinet ministers that don't have electorate responsibilities (and don't need a house out of Wellington) - as a deputy leader and potential minister of finance he probably should have gone in on the list rather then as the MP for Dipton.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2031 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    My dad was a public servant - a primary school teacher. We shifted to different houses & towns almost every year as his career progressed. During that time travelling around the country my parents rented our house in Auckland out.
    This is a case of different rules for MP's than the rest of us. Why not just admit that they want a 25% pay rise instead of sneakily dipping their noses in the trough instead? Couldn't Bill rent the house in Dipton out? Or does he think he's too good for that?

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 269 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Personally, I'd be much happier if MPs and Ministers got their housing allowances abolished and replaced with a one-off pay hike. Then, they can live in a shack or a palace -- don't much care, but they've got to live within their means (or to the limits of their credit) like everyone else.

    I think they've moved towards that with the new flat do whatever you want with this housing allowance.

    I think (and hope) they've retained it only for out of Wellington MPs though. I don't think Grant Robertson, Peter Dunne, etc should get 20% pay hikes to maintain their one home, the principle of "we'll support only out of Wellington MPs maintain a residence in Wellington since they have to come here so much" seems to me to be a good one to keep.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6150 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    The way I would see it working is this:
    The primary residence, of no concern to Parliamentary Services except for paying for telecommunications connections (I have no problem with the taxpayer footing the bill for two phone lines and a residential internet connection for the residence of every MP), is where the partner (martial, CUB, or common-law) and/or dependent children (in the absence of a partner) of the MP reside. Doesn't matter if this is in Wellington or elsewhere, but it's clearly what the lay person would define as "home". In the absence of family, I'd say something like "the residence occupied for six months prior to election to Parliament".

    A secondary residence, available only to electorate MPs, would be either in Wellington or in their electorate. Quite how this would be funded should be up for discussion, but 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).

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

  • Tim Hannah,

    MPs should not get to have secondary houses paid for outside of Wgtn. The idea is that they represent the communities they live in and are compensated for the expense involved in coming to Wgtn so much.

    If they choose to live in Wgtn while claiming to represent an area outside it, there's no expense involved in coming to Wgtn, so nothing to compensate for.

    Or nothing that standard rates for MPs travelling on Parliamentary Business wouldn't adequately cover, which might make it harder to flick tens of thousands of extra dollars into your family's trust, but them's the breaks.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 223 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Darlington,

    But that doesn't mean I feel sorry for him.

    Good. English isn't the only MP fleecing the taxpayer (it looks like Anderton does an even better job of it for instance), but he's the only one who's Minister of Finance.

    The Nats must be holding their heads in their hands - all that tough-love blather about how we must reduce the burden on the taxpayer in this time of recession, and it turns out their Finance Minister has carefully arranged his affairs to be able to milk the taxpayer for the maximum amount possible. Loss of credibility? D'ya think?

    Since Nov 2006 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    As alluded to in other posts it seems to me that the perks that MPs get are in lieu of the under the table payments they may be tempted to take if they thought their pay + perks was insufficient. I have no problem with that, if that is the price of democracy then so be it. The accommodation perks were established when trains ruled and planes didn't. It took a week to get home therefore some extra to accommodate MPs in Wgtn was found useful to attract "people of good standing" to Parliament. However, it does appear suspicious that English seems to have changed his circumstances that appeared to put him into a different clause of the perk payment rules.

    The other "Get Out of Jail Card" that has reared it's head are these F*&king Trusts. I am momentously impressed how these "instruments" can be used to keep bankrupts and other swindlers living in "manner they have become accustomed" for ever and ever. I'll plonk a dollar down that the Blue Chip brigade will live comfortably even after the almost certain jail time.

    In my opinion they are a curse on society. They are the GOOJ card that is used to usurp responsibility. "An intelligent businessman" will make sure that some income from their business is diverted into a trust so that f it ever crashes it can't be got at by creditors.

    For some reason I feel a moral obligation to accept the mistakes I make rather than be able to hide the unholy benefits inside a trust.

    Am I nuts?

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1479 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Ross, there are rules about taking back money from trusts in cases like Blue Chip. Petrecovic (sp?) had money that he obviously moved to a trust for protection stripped back.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1720 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Gareth: Could it be one of these?

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/627004

    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????

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1479 posts Report Reply

  • johnno,

    Re. Media7, maybe you could ask Janet Wilson if her Bespoke Media Training is providing media training for Anne Tolley.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 108 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    Interesting that the whole Bill English rorts taxpayer issue segues neatly with the painfully slow action being taken against obviously guilty finance company directors. Do we really trust this government to hold the shonky bunch to account or will they be given no punishment having blamed everything possible on the credit crunch? I saw one of the owners of one of the biggest failures in the street 6 months ago and he claimed no knowledge ogf wrong doing. He lied to my face and said he'd left the firm a year before the crash (when I checked later on google, he hadn't). He was off to a meeting with a quasi-qovernment organisation giving advice on an hourly rate. The Bill English issue is all about trust in a financial industry still in shock from major frauds where no-one has yet to see the inside of a prison as a result. He's policing it all and we've got to trust his judgement...

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 269 posts Report Reply

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