Sir Double Dipton pays it back

So Bill English is going to pay back his accommodation allowance – well, at least some of it. According to Sir Double Dipton, it is all about “perception”:

But he said today he accepted there was a perception that he was claiming more than ordinary MPs who live in homes they have an interest in, and though he had done nothing wrong, there was only one way to change that perception.

“The fact is no amount of detail will change the perception that in some way I’m gaining a bigger allowance than other members of Parliament, so I’ve decided to deal with that perception.

“I’m the Minister of Finance. It’s my job to lead by example, so I’ll be getting in touch with the Ministerial Services to pay back the difference between the rate I’m on and the other rate going back to the election.”

Let’s see if other Ministers, particularly those like Phil Heatley and Wayne Mapp, who have been collecting accommodation allowance for both the homes they live in and theones they own and rent out to other MPs, make similar offers.

Can I have one with a moat please?

Well, seems it’s not just Bill English rorting the system. The NZ Herald reports a number of Cabinet Ministers own residential property in Wellington, most of which are rented out, but choose to live in Ministerial homes.

I don’t begrudge Ministers the opportunity to move their families to Wellington so they can spend more time with them, and a small apartment may not provide adequately for that.

But renting out their own properties in Wellington, while the taxpayer is paying for the full cost of their Ministerial homes, is scamming it. Even though it is within the rules, surely Ministers should have exercised the restraint they are expect from the citizens they govern and offered to offset the rent they receive from their own properties against the costs of the Ministerial homes they occupy.

Here’s the list of those with their snouts in the trough:

Tim Groser: Ministerial Services paid $8937 January-June. Also owns $540,000 apartment in central Wellington, which is being used as an investment property.

Tariana Turia: Lives in a Ministerial home. Also own $520,000 property in Wellington suburb of Broadmeadows [surely that would be suitable for her family to live in]. Refuses to say if she rents it out.

Phil Heatley: Ministerial Services paid $24,607 January-June. Also owns $360,000 Wellington apartment that is being rented out.

Anne Tolley: Ministerial Services paid $22,045 January-June. Also owns $295,000 one-bedroom Wellington apartment, which is currently rented out.

Wayne Mapp: Ministerial Services paid $18,878 January-June. Also owns $285,000 Wellington apartment and rents it out.

Murray McCully: Ministerial Services paid $12,865 January-June. Owns a Wellington flat and rents it out.

Then, of course, there is Bill English, who is in a category of his own, receiving $23,673 from Ministerial Services between January and June this year to live with his wife and family in their own home.

Perhaps they should consider following this precedent – its not too late to pay back the money they have scammed.

The Minister for Prestressed Concrete

Posting this on behalf of another Green member who doesn’t yet have gblog posting permissions:

I don’t know how inspired you were this morning by John Key’s latest ministerial creation. It had shades of Don Brash and the Minister in charge of PC, do you remember Wayne Mapp and political correctness. We now have a Minister for Prestressed Concrete. Gerry Brownlee would be a likely candidate, so from uptightness about political correctness we have rectitude on infrastructure. Kathryn Ryan didn’t get much joy from Key on concrete proposals, but there was a lot of water and hot air sloshing about.