Eddie at The Standard rightly complains about Smith’s behaviour towards the media. But there may be more to the story than that.
Nick Smith claims:
I had to spend $152,000 to make it usable…
re his electorate office.
I don’t dispute that. But who paid the $152,000? Was it Smith personally? Or was at least some of it from a different Parliamentary budget from the one that pays for electorate office rents?
You see, each MP gets an annual allocation as an “expense allowance” (PDF, bottom of page 5) of $14,800 a year – I think it was somewhat less when Smith bought his Nelson office.
Now, that’s not a huge amount of money. But it can be used, and is used, for modifications and fitouts of electorate offices. And if there is capital expenditure charged against the allowance, only the depreciation will be charged in any given year.
So charge the cost of the fitout, improvements and chattel purchase on Nick Smith’s electorate office against that allowance, over the 13 years since he bought it, and it is possible it could all have been paid for almost entirely by a Parliamentary budget, rather than by Smith himself.
I’m not suggesting he did this – just that he could have done it.
Which surely has to be an argument for greater transparency re MPs’ expenses.
Nick Smith could take a lead in transparency re Parliamentary expenses here. He could front up and declare what he personally paid for, and what was paid by the various Parliamentary service budgets, for the electorate office he owns.
What are the chances he will?