Commentators on Turei


Turei is no Jean Valjean, stealing a loaf of bread to feed her child. She is someone who, while studying for a law degree no less, has admitted defrauding the taxpayer over a period of three years, by failing to tell social welfare officials of the flatmates helping her to pay the rent in three of the five flats she lived in.

It wasn’t a case of lying to get through a couple of tough months. It spanned several years. Three different flats. As the Herald editorial wrote, it looks more “like a systematic attempt to rort the system”.


There must have been many occasions when the fraud was renewed, when a declaration had to be made. One can only wonder how many times a false declaration was made, or how many opportunities Turei would have had to set the record straight. And yet the fraud was either repeated, or persisted.

So how often did she lie on an official form? At least three times, but it might be at often as a dozen or more.

She is now attempting to cash in again on this dishonesty by turning it into political capital. It makes the Green’s welfare policy, in removing sanctions and investigations, look almost like an attempt to excuse her poor behaviour.

Most people on a benefit do not lie about their income.

But now some are seeing Turei as some sort of hero, and that her dishonesty is ok. That is, surely, an insult to all the honest people who don’t set their standards at that level, and those beneficiaries who struggle through difficult times without breaking the law. Not to mention the hard-working New Zealanders of all political stripes, who struggle to pay their mortgage, their rent, their power bills, their tax, and support their families, without breaking the law.


Sure, no one is perfect. But a hardly-remorseful Turei is now asking for our vote. And her platform now is tainted by the message that it is okay to be a fraud. That dishonesty is okay. The ends justify the means. That the taxpayer is there to be ripped off if when it suits. That the law means nothing. Take what you think you need.

My response would be different if Turei was unequivocal in saying what she did was wrong, but she was desperate. But she is the opposite. She thinks she did nothing wrong. She thinks taxpayers wronged her by not giving her enough money to be a mother, study law and stand for Parliament at the same time.

Mike Hosking also writes:

Having confessed to lying and cheating a government department, she’s now decided to play co-conspirator to those who have come forward and told her they’re ripping off the system just like she did.

It would be easy to ignore this sort of behaviour if it wasn’t for the fact this woman wants to run the country. She’s not some attention seeking activist, she’s potentially a senior cabinet minister.

You can say all you want about politics and its ability to sink to various lows. But in general, those who participate in the practice have a broad code of conduct – and deception, dishonesty, fraud and general illegality aren’t part of it.

Being angry or frustrated about a system or finding things hard under a series of rules or regulations have never been, and please let them never become, acceptable reasons to become a crook.

This is now the brand of the Greens thanks To Metiria – fraud, dishonest, crook.

Rosemary McLeod chimes in:

We now know that Turei, as a 22-year-old solo mother, received the DPB and a grant to study for a law degree – which sounds pretty generous to me – while not admitting she lived with people who were sharing the rent, which means she conceivably got an accommodation allowance on top of her basic benefit.

She admits she was helped by her own family as well as her child’s father’s family, but says she couldn’t get by on that. So Turei took money from working people, through their taxes, who were probably no better off than she was. I can’t detect heroism in that.

No feminist solidarity from Rosemary!

Barry Soper also writes:

The twitterati has become apoplectic, fuming at the audacity of anyone posing a provocative question to the patron saint of the poor .

Why would be want to know whether the father of the child Turei gave birth to in any way contributed to her upbringing?

It’s pertinent because if you’ve admitted to ripping off the taxpayer funded welfare system, as the Green co-leader has, then sources of income at a time she was claiming the benefit should be known.

The question though got short shrift from the MP who refused to speak about personal relationships, adding that she doesn’t believe women should be interrogated about those relationships.

It was a curious response, given that anyone claiming any benefit should declare their financial status before it’s paid to them.

Yep the Greens think that taxpayers, not fathers, should pay for children.

In fact she took the argument further, telling journalists they were being unfair, asking the kind of interrogative questions that beneficiaries are subjected to all the time.

The same sort of interrogation isn’t applied to people getting working for families, she contends, nor is it applied to pensioners.

Well the latter’s universal, your are paid it regardless of your financial standing and the former is always paid depending on the financial status of the recipient and the number of kids in the household.

Almost all state assistance is based on family or household income, not personal income. If you earn $30,000 a year and your partner earns $200,000 a year then you don’t get WFF. And if you do claim WFF on the basis of your $30,000 without declaring you live with your partner on $200,000 a year you are also a fraudster.

It’s a pity Turei wasn’t interrogated a little more closely when she was defrauding the system.

That interrogation will finally come next week when she meets a fraud investigator from the Social Development Ministry, more than 20 years too late.

When she admitted to fraud she must have known the blowtorch was about to be applied, given that she spent the best part of six years on the old domestic purposes benefit.

If MSD do a thorough job, they will not just be looking at her lies over how much rent she was paying. Other factors they should examine are:

  • Was she ever living with the father of the child during her six years on the DPB, in which case she may have been ineligible to be on the DPB at all
  • Did she have care of her child for the entire time she was on the DPB, or did the child spend some of that time in the care of grandparents
  • Was she living with another partner while still claiming the DPB and claiming to be single

The worst case scenario for Turei isn’t that she has to pay the money back, but if MSD decide her fraud wasn’t a one off decision of desperation but part of a pattern of deliberate offending. For if they decide to prosecute, then depending on what charges are laid a conviction would remove her from Parliament.


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