Bill English has just announced:
- He will not take up any housing allowance in future
- He has not received an allowance since 28 July while the situation was clarified
- He has reimbursed Ministerial Services for all of the housing allowances he has received since the election
Also he has a legal opinion from Stephen Kos QC that the changes to his family trust did not in any way affect his eligibility for the Ministerial housing allowance.
Bill has said:
“What I’m announcing today reflects a set of personal decisions I have made about my own situation. It is in no way setting a precedent for others although I make the point here that I believe Parliament does have to think how it can accommodate the families of long-term politicians.
“At all times my decisions have been driven by my desire to keep my family together and provide them with as much stability as possible. It’s now clear that the system has struggled to deal with my circumstances.
“This has been an unnecessary distraction. I now want to move on and focus on building our economy and ensuring that New Zealanders have jobs.
As I have said, the perception is often more powerful than the reality. I think it is clear Bill English had complied with the rules, but the perception is that he was rorting the system so he has done what is necessary to close the issue down.
I lok forward to the same level of scrutiny on the Greens renting of houses owned by their superannuation scheme to themselves, to maximise the taxpayer subsidy. They have done exactly what Mallard accused Bill of – using a trust or fund to maximise eligibility. If they owned the properties in their own names, they would only be eligible to claim the interest off any mortgage.