29 Oct 2009

Opponents still have questions about English's allowances

10:22 pm on 29 October 2009

Opposition parties are taking issue with a claim by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English that he has been cleared by an Auditor General's report into expenses for MPs.

Mr English was forced to repay about $32,000 after questions arose about a claim of $900 per week for accommodation expenses.

The Auditor-General will not investigate him any further, but notes Mr English does have an indirect financial interest in a family trust which owns his Wellington home.

The Labour Party says that shows Mr English's signing of a declaration saying he did not have a pecuniary interest in his family home, was a facade.

The Green Party say a full review of all allowances by an independent agency is needed.

Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton says "It's not a blank cheque for Mr English in any way, shape or form".

Mr Anderton wrote to the Office of the Auditor-General last month asking it to investigate whether Mr English should be able to claim Wellington is not his primary place of residence.

The Auditor-General's report found Mr English had completed the required paperwork, which was approved by Parliamentary Services and successive Speakers.

Better system to come - Speaker

The Auditor-General does not consider an independent inquiry into the Parliamentary system for allowances is required.

Speaker Lockwood Smith says he will use the report's finding to develop a better system and provide certainty to the public that the system is fair.