Metiria has Double Dipton stumbling, stammering, and struggling on inequality

Well done, Metiria Turei. In today’s Parliamentary question time Metiria had Bill English stumbling, stammering, and unable to come up with any answers of substance on her questions about the increasing inequality in Aotearoa / New Zealand. Here’s the video:

For those who have slow internet connections that make videos difficult, a transcript is here (although it doesn’t really reflect how flustered Double Dipton was on the issue).

It was a bad day all round for Double Dipton. He also confirmed yesterday’s revelation that he has no mathematical understanding of what an average (or mean) is:

Hon Trevor Mallard: Does he understand that real average wages go up when high-income earners get massive tax cuts—$1,000 a week, in his case—and low-income workers lose their jobs?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, I do not understand that, because it is not true.

Almost (but not) enough to make me rethink my views about National Standards on numeracy! And this guy used to work for Treasury!!!

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Theft is theft

Thought for the day:

If you or I steal money, it is theft. We get taken to court, and get fined or go to prison.

Interesting! As Double Dipton would say, it’s all about perception.

Dipton International Airport – where the excavators roar

coalactionnetworkStevedore posted this afternoon:

Dig up Fiordland for coal?
Why not? Afterall it seems to have helped Newcastle develop into the must-go tourist hotspot that it is today.

Seems that great minds think alike. Because I had an idea for a similar post. Except I had the graphic to the left lined up for mine.

Yes, Dipton. Given that you can’t really have lots of people living in a National Park, the ideal location for the administrative centre of operations would have to be Dipton. Dipton could become a real economic powerhouse.

Plenty of room for development. And just a short flight to get the miners to work.

Yes, a flight. From Dipton International Airport. The one that Bill English and the NZ Herald seem to think already exits:

Mr McCully liaised with Samoan and Tongan ministers yesterday while Mr English flew north from Dipton, in his Clutha-Southland electorate, back to Wellington.

Hey, and with an airport in Dipton, Bill could be home to his wife and kids within an hour and 15 minutes of leaving Parliament.

Oops, he already can. Walking to Karori!

BTW: The Dipton in the graphic is Dipton in Durham, United Kingdom – not Bill’s Dipton. But coal could be the common factor.

This one goes out to the Minister of Finance

Poor Bill English has been getting a hard time lately. So I thought I’d post a song for him. The first one I thought of was Wilko Johnson’s Doctor Dupree. It’s got the Double D alliteration in the title (as in Double Dipton) and some really appropriate lines like:

You better jump before the blast.

But try as I did, Bill, I couldn’t find a decent quality video of it. So this one, also by Wilko Johnson, will have to do.

It’s called Sneaking Suspicion. Also rather appropriate, in the circumstances. And has anyone, ever, heard a guitar played like a percussion instrument in the way Wilko does on this.

Play it for Bill, Wilko!

What is the test, John?

John Key seems to want to have it both ways as far as confidence in Ministers is concerned. Following Richard Worth’s forced resignation, Key responded:

Asked if he as Prime Minister owed the public an explanation, Mr Key said: “No. The test of whether someone enjoys my confidence is not a legal test and I have never argued that Dr Worth broke any legal test.”

But in video deleted from TVNZ’s website, but recovered by The Standard, Key expresses confidence in Bill English despite his Ministerial expenses rort, stating:

It’s a legal test and I am absolutely satisfied he has met the legal test… Well there is a requirtement that’s around the legal test and I am satisfied he has no pecuniary interest.

So, it’s one rule for one Minister, and a different rule for another. Guess it depends on the expendibility of the Minister concerned, and presumably Key considers sacking the Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister is an even worse look that having him continue to perpetrate the accomodation allowance rort.

Hat Tip: Draco T Bastard in The Standard comments thread

I live in Wellington, and so do you.

Bill English is still protesting loudly that because he’s only claiming as much as a backbencher for living somewhere he doesn’t actually live, we cannot expect any more from him. He’s simply and demonstrably wrong.

While I have no issue with him identifying Dipton as his home, (I still feel that way about London to a degree, and I haven’t lived there in over a decade) it is plainly not where he is actually living. Accomodation allowances are designed to offset the costs of MPs who have no residence in Wellington, and would have to rent one.

If Bill English wants the pressure to come off, he should admit he lives in Wellington, and was never entitled to take the allowance in the first place, stop taking the backbencher-level accommodation supplement, and repay the rest of the money he wrongly claimed. If he’d do that, I’d willingly forgive him the lies, the obfuscation, and the blatant attempts to disguise his living arrangements because he made the situation right and made clear that MPs are only entitled to additional pay when they face additional difficulties in serving the country. I’d even defend that he had no need to step down from anything, if he did it very quickly- as far as I’m concerned he’s probably procrastinated more than he has rights to if he expects people to believe he did not intend to rort the taxpayer, but just because I dislike him doesn’t mean I fancy the idea of anyone else in his party trying to be finance minister. (and presumably failing even worse)

Being an MP is not a career. Every term you are re-elected, and it is a privilege every time, as it entitles you to do a great service for the country. MPs do not need competitive pay with the private sector, they need pay that takes into account the stress and expenses of being an MP, and their current remuneration is perfectly adequate, many would say without all the allowances we add on.

This is the disconnect: Bill thinks he’s entitled to the allowance because it is legal for him to take it, and it is legal to take it because MPs like him have set the rules based on the mistaken presumption that being an MP is a career. I think he’s not entitled to it because he lives in a house with his name on the deed, in Wellington, for most of the year, and thus does not need the additional money. The Nat’s “reform” of ministerial allowances does not address this matter, and highlights the need for a truly independent body that sets the pay and allowance rules for MPs in a transparent, fair, and non-partisan way, ensuring MPs can do their jobs if they have additional disadvantages compared to other MPs, but neither excessively punishing nor excessively rewarding them.