9 Oct 2009

Green Party to sell super fund houses

3:18 pm on 9 October 2009

The Green Party will stop taxpayer-funded accommodation allowances being channelled into its superannuation fund.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that the Greens had paid back $6,000 to the Parliamentary Service after the party said it had accidentally over-claimed for accommodation.

The party's superannuation fund owns two properties in Wellington, in which three of its MPs live, and the taxpayer picks up the rent.

It was one of those properties for which the party had to re-imburse the Parliamentary Service.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says both properties will be sold, ending the practice of funnelling the accommodation allowance into the fund.

Radio New Zealand's political staff say the arrangement is within the rules but has increasingly become a political embarrassment for the Greens - a party which has tried to take the moral high ground over MPs' allowances.

The fund itself, which has other assets including shares, will continue to operate.

Ms Turei says with the current confusion on MPs' allowances and expenses it was decided the party should take decisive and clear steps so there is no doubt about the actions or intention of its MPs.

The Green Party's out-of-town MPs will rent Wellington accommodation on an individual basis.

Meanwhile, the party's two outgoing MPs have yet to signal whether they will stay in the superannuation fund.

Seven MPs contribute to the fund including Sue Bradford, who is to retire later in October, and Jeanette Fitzsimons, who has signalled she will not be standing at the next election.

Ms Turei says the MPs will meet with the fund's trustees in coming weeks to discuss their intentions.