Mon, 21 Sep 2009 8:45a.m.
Bill English should cut the pretence. He doesn't live in Dipton and hasn't for more than a decade.
He and his family made a choice to be together in Wellington in the 90s. They made the decision for family and personal reasons. The English's wanted to be together - and they knew their Dad's work was going to have him in Wellington for years to come. They wanted to be a family. It's old fashioned and honourable. Good on you.
They have a house in the capital, the kids go to the school there, two of them are enrolled to vote in Wellington Central and his wife is a G.P. in the city.
And until last month Bill English claimed $950 a week to live in his own house. He now claims half that, the same as an ordinary MP - about $24,000. He paid back $14,000 because he thought it was a 'bad look'. You're not kidding.
But he will soon, as a result of the changes put in place by John Key, be paid $30,000 a year to help him pay off his own mortgage. In effect English is in line for a $6,000 pay rise shortly.
Remember this is a house owned by a trust, his wife is the trustee. Bill English apparently has no pecuniary interest; he removed himself as a trustee this year for “family and personal reasons”. Legally - he has no interest in the house.
As a consequence of the changes he made to his affairs, the house was rented back to Ministerial Services as an 'Official Ministerial Residence’.
It's a joke Bill - and you were caught out.
We all accept you represent Clutha-Southland. We all accept you are the local MP. But when you are preaching financial restraint to voters wouldn't the following option be better.
Why don't you claim an out of town allowance when you visit Dipton. Ask the Speaker to approve it. I'm sure Lockwood Smith will do it. It will save the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars on the current arrangement.
Because you don't live in Dipton. You live here. And Labour won't stop the attacks until you make another mea culpa.
English looks mortally wounded as he moves around Parliament. His mandate in this recession has been battered and bruised by this encounter. When was the last time he made a big speech covered by the mainstream media?
He has been low-key since it all surfaced. Now Labour intends to carry on the attacks and stretch out the pain. There are two options really. English either resigns or is sacked and I can't see that happening. Or he fronts up and accepts he lives in Wellington and will no longer claim a cent for doing so.
The problem with the last idea is that Labour will claim he owes $400,000, because he has claimed the out of town allowance for years. So Labour should accept any move that for what it is - and leave him alone if he does it.
But it's the right thing to do. English must put an end to this farce. Labour has the Finance Minister in a vice and it's starting to tighten it.
You cannot have your Finance Minister defending his personal financial matters on a daily basis. English must do the right thing by this Government and by John Key.
He needs to drop the bitter and nasty attacks on the media. His language in private is unbecoming and unprofessional. He's on $276,000 and he has a job to do. Get on with it Bill, but do the right thing, and stop trying to muscle up behind the scenes - it's getting you nowhere.