Labour’s Hutt South MP Ginny Andersen has admitted that in 2017 she knew about a secretive rent deal that saw $4500 in taxpayer cash funnelled into the local Labour Party each year.
She’d previously said she only understood the deal after she “looked at it” ahead of the 2020 election, when she axed the arrangement, which was set up by the previous MP, now speaker of the House Trevor Mallard.
The deal worked through a subletting arrangement whereby the local Labour Party rented office space from the building’s owner, the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union, for $1500 a year. It then sublet that office to Andersen for her MP’s duties, for $6000.
Anderson had told TVNZ that she didn’t understand the deal until 2020. This means she must have been unaware of how much PS was paying Labour for her own office rent and/or she was unaware of how much Labour paid NZPFU for the rent.
When asked about the deal by TVNZ last Friday, Andersen said she didn’t know about the deal initially, suggesting she only discovered it when it was raised by Stuff in 2020.
“I was never aware of it initially, but when it was brought out just before the last election, I decided that wasn’t transparent enough,” Andersen said.
“After the intense scrutiny raised by [National MP] Chris Bishop just before the last election, I looked at it, understood what was going on, and decided that it would be much more transparent to see that it was going straight from Parliamentary Service to the existing landlord,” she told TVNZ.
So she very clearly said she didn’t know about it until 2020.
Stuff presented her with multiple documents that suggested she’d been aware of the details of the agreement during most of the last Parliamentary term.
These documents include AGM minutes from Andersen’s electorate, where the deal was discussed in her presence as early as 2019; annual accounts which were emailed to Andersen which show the financial records behind the deal; and even an email sent to Andersen and others in which she asked for a copy of the rental agreements, suggesting that she or people she worked with were in possession of them.
Stuff has also obtained an email to Andersen with a screenshot of Hutt South Labour’s bank account which was sent to Andersen in June 2019 to prove the rent had been paid.
Pants on fire.