It’s time to leave Bill English alone
by Jake Quinn
It’s time to leave Bill English alone. Labour and the press gallery have had a good run with it. Bill’s been embarrassed, he’s paid some money back and the issue will always slightly affect his credibility as Finance Minister. But enough is enough.
Bill’s home in Dipton has been in his family for 120 years. It’s on English Rd. It’s full of his stuff and he is the local MP. Some time ago he decided to have his family reside in Wellington so they could be closer together – his kids go to school there and his wife practices medicine there – it’s an honourable thing to do for someone planning a life in politics.
Bill has to maintain two residences because he has two homes, two rates bills, and everything else that goes with it.
MP’s need to be ultra careful and conservative when it comes to what benefits and kickbacks they receive. The public mood for lynchings is high, especially after the British MPs’ expenses scandal which led to numerous resignations.
Bill should have been more careful so deserves some of the criticism he has received. However, successive Speakers of the House, from both major parties, have signed off on his arrangements and the legal buck stops with them.
What’s more, his being in breach, if he is, is a technicality. He’s only in trouble because the allowance is called an ‘out of town MP’ allowance. If it was called the ‘MP’s who have a home in their electorate but choose to spend pretty much all of their time in Wellington’ allowance then there wouldn’t be an issue.
The issue of him changing the ownership of his Karori home to a family trust that he is not a beneficiary of (in order to receive an extra taxpayer funded kickback) does seem a little fishy though. But Bill has taken enough of a public flogging for this.
It is time to move on. There’s a tsunami on the way for christ’s sake ;)
Update: Do read the comments thread, there are some rather good responses in there