Bill English and Ethics

NRT has a bash at Bill, saying he’s unethical.

Bill should not have changed his affairs to claim rental allowances for a house he owned. However, he was in good company in the house, not to mention the thousands of New Zealanders who’ve arranged their affairs to maximise their various government payments. The Auditors report also details that Ministerial Services accepted legal advice that they should not have, which puts the fault somewhat in the court of Ministerial Services.

The idea that Bill shouldn’t get any money (which he now doesn’t) is just insulting. His situation – moving to Wellington to take up an MPs job – is the very reason why these allowances exist. He maintains a home in Dipton (where his family have been for generations, the street is even named after him!) and one in Wellington. As DPF said a few months back:

Of course there is a wider perception issue that goes beyond the rules. But I’m wary of the precedent that gets set if you punish MPs for having a family, and even worse punish them because they chose *at their own expense* to have some of their family live in Wellington with them while they are an MP.

One thing that’s been glossed over in all this is that Bill stopped all his allowances back when the story broke. He didn’t tell anyone. That, to me shows integrity – he took a lot of stick for “still” getting other allowances even though he wasn’t.

Even more bizarre is the fact that Bill should be getting his accommodation absolutely free in Vogel House but for the fact that it’s being used by the GG while his official residence is being renovated. Complaining about someone claiming costs for living away from home is bizarre when they’re normally entitled to live free in a 4.7m mansion.

But how about his accusers?

Well, I’ve previously noted the ethics of Idiot/Savant, who seems to think it fine a duty of government to remove children from parents based on their political campaigning. He’s also told many outright lies about the effects of the old Section 59. I don’t recall Bill doing anything that scurrilous.

Then there’s Pete Hodgson. The man who assaulted a protester who was holding up a sign – because it might have embarrassed Helen. Pete’s the only southern MP with any experience after David Benson-Pope was finally forced out – but not before the PM ignored him lying to parliament and reports that indicated the associate education minister was a sexual deviant who like tying up children in the classroom.

What was that again?

The Cabinet Manual requires Ministers not just to act lawfully, but also “to behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards.

Hm. Seems like the pot is calling the kettle black on this one.

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