Smith hits back

hits back at media criticism over his owning of his electorate office. When I said last week that MPs often owned their electorate office not to make money, but to better serve the community, I was thinking very much of Nick.

The Dom Post reports:

A senior Cabinet minister has hit out at criticism of MPs over their allowances and says the media have got it “completely wrong”.

The Dominion Post has revealed a money-go-round that allows MPs to use their $65,000-a-year electorate allowance to buy up office space and rent it to themselves.

Seven MPs are using the allowance in that way, including Nelson MP and Environment Minister Nick Smith.

Dr Smith yesterday rejected claims that he had made a tidy sum from the property, which he brought in 1996 for $165,000 and is now worth $310,000. “I had to spend $152,000 to make it usable … I spent a total of over $317,000.”

And that is one reason an MP may seek to own an office – so they can restructure it as they want.

In 1996 he had brought a church hall and church manse next door and converted the two-storey hall into an electorate office and community hall upstairs.

The hall was used several times a week by community groups.

“You would find it has been a source of community charity, far from your accusation of me trying to make a quick buck.”

I’ve worked/visited there several times, and it is often in use.

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