Who paid for what, Nick?

Nick Smith, following Bill English’s example, has apparently gone apoplectic about a media report concerning his Parliamentary expenses.

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?

Things to do in Dipton when you’re dead

Well, I suppose you could resurect yourself.

As Sir Roger Douglas has done, claiming $44,000 in expenses for an overseas holiday as his “entitlement”.

Oh, and as Don Brash and Christine Rankin have resurrected themselves.

And, yes, when Sir Double Dipton finally “retires” (and it might be sooner rather than later, given his accommodation expenses rort) he too will be eligible for 90% of his overseas travel costs being met by the taxpayer. Forever!

Sir Double Dipton says:

But the minister says Dipton remains his home and he intends to return there when he leaves Parliament.

Better get the house in order, then Bill. Including evicting the current tenants, which you need only 42 days to do under the appalling lack of residential tenure provided by the Residential Tenancies Act.

It might be sooner, rather than later, so better get moving on it Bill.