Armstrong: Turei’s benefit fraud admission stinks

John Armstrong is scathing of Metiria Turei’s confession about benefit fraud, and also how she has handled it.

1 News: The timing of Metiria Turei’s benefit fraud admission stinks – as does her handling of it

Those standing alongside the Greens’ co-leader might like to ponder another possible motive for her coming clean about her past — one which has little to do with the debate surrounding benefit policy and social deprivation.

Turei has made little secret of her ambition to be in charge of the Social Development portfolio in a Labour-Greens coalition government.

Were she to become Social Development minister following September’s election and had she not disclosed her misleading of Work and Income, the Social Development ministry’s operational arm, the prime minister (whoever that might yet turn out to be) would have no choice but to sack her were those indiscretions to have become public.

Her honesty would be refreshing were the timing not just a few weeks out from an election. That stinks – as does the manner in which she has handled the matter.

It is difficult to reach a fair conclusion when it comes to casting moral judgment on her behaviour.

Harsh, but Armstrong has a point.

Even now it would be difficult for Turei to take on the Social Development portfolio if there is a possible investigation of her outstanding.

If she became minister would she condemn anyone else doing what she did, or would she signal that it is ok if the benefit recipient felt they needed it?

Turei has volunteered little information.

She has said she and her child lived in five different flats with various people while she completed her law degree. In three of those flats, she had extra flatmates who paid rent. She did not inform Work and Income for fear of her benefit being cut.

Her obvious reluctance to provide more detail is nothing short of a disgrace. It is also very telling.

In the absence of more detail — most crucially how much money she received to which she was not entitled — it is incumbent on her as an MP to put things right — at least as much as can be done so.

She should have fessed up a lot earlier, apologised and paid back her best estimate of how much she owed to Work and Income.

There was probably never going to be a good time to sort it all out but Turei’s timing now does raise a number of questions.

To be fair to her, what she did during her time on the domestic purposes benefit cannot be undone. Moreover, everyone has done things they later regret.

There is sympathy for her past plight and respect for her efforts in pulling herself out of it. That is why other MPs from other parties have been very careful not to be seen to be knocking her.

The absence of outcry from political quarters, however, assists her case that she was the victim of a harsh welfare regime.

Blaming the system for her cheating of the system enables her to absolve herself of all responsibility for her misleading the system.

It allows her to play the martyr. But she is doing so in a manner which cuts right across another responsibility — that as an MP she set the best example possible.

Saying that she will only pay the money back if Work and Income demands it hardly fulfils that obligation.

She has ignored the politics of gesture. That can reap big dividends. In refusing to make the right gesture, she has foregone an opportunity to redeem herself.

That shows extremely poor political judgement on her part. But it gets worse.

She endeavoured to turn her breach of the law into a launching pad for her party’s welfare policy. That is audacious. It is also the height of arrogance. It is also to enter very dangerous territory. It implies you are above the law. It says it is okay to break the law in order to try and change it.

It is hard to imagine how someone with Turei’s political experience could be employing an election strategy as flawed as the one she is running.

It is becoming even harder to understand why her colleagues are still giving her such free rein to keep doing so.

They aren’t into the old school politics that Armstrong worked with.

Again, this is harsh from Armstrong, but it doesn’t seem unfair to me.

Leave a comment


  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  19th July 2017

    If the Fourth Estate could be relied on to do their job impartially it should be impossible for Turei to handle a serious political media interview from now on.

    • duperez

       /  19th July 2017

      AW, if the Fourth Estate did their job impartially do you think they’d find it impossible to have a serious political media interview from then on with any politician who told barefaced lies in media interviews and/or in Parliament?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  19th July 2017

        It’s pretty much a requirement of politicians that they tell bare-faced lies. They have to say they are confident they will win and that x is a wonderful idea when they know the opposite is true.

        It isn’t a requirement that they commit financial fraud and try to make it respectable.

  2. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  19th July 2017

    There is a NZ Herald story 2002 that states that exLabour MP Ann Hartley is the grandmother of Metiria’s child.
    If this is true, I no longer believe Metiria’s sob story about being so poor she had to lie in order to feed her child.

    Something stinks with her story…
    If the exLabour MP is the grandmother, did she know Metiria and her son were rorting the system?

    • Hartleh must have been Party to Meteria and her sons’ deception a at least as far as the non declaration of paternity.

      What a wicked web we weave……

    • Corky

       /  19th July 2017

      Wow, everyone is working hard behind the scenes to bag a political take-out.

      Good stuff.

      • Hansard is full of her hypocrisy. How I wish someone would get their teeth into it

        Criminal fraud?? No problem saying this about an exonerated Banksie

        “And, you know, John Banks did. He spent two terms as the mayor of New Zealand’s biggest city, he has been a Minister of the Crown, and he has been an MP in this Parliament for many years, but how could he have done all of those things credibly—and this is the important issue—knowing that his career and his credibility depended on his honesty? He has signed off on documents that have now led him to be in court on a charge of criminal fraud. There is an issue here of honesty, an issue of credibility, and that has had a very significant and very negative effect on this Government.”

        • Corky

           /  19th July 2017

          Yes, I wonder if she apologised. I doubt it. Mentioning an over achiever like Banks in the same space as the Earth Mother should be a criminal offence.

          • Blazer

             /  19th July 2017

            “Overachiever like Banks!!!!a political dilettante.

            • Corky

               /  19th July 2017

              Yep, socialists would say he’s just lucky. Probably born with a silver spoon stuck up his rear end.

            • Maggy Wassilieff

               /  19th July 2017

              Probably born with a silver spoon stuck up his rear end.

              I don’t think so…
              Banks was born in Wellington in 1946. When he was a young child, his parents Archie and Kitty were imprisoned for procuring abortions. His father was a career criminal and his mother an alcoholic. From the age of two he was raised by an aunt and uncle, alongside “many foster children”

          • Corky

             /  20th July 2017

            Yes, Maggy, I was being facetious… like ol’ Blazer.

  3. Geoffrey

     /  19th July 2017

    What was she thinking? There is no way this can end well for this woman without all who complied with the law at that time receiving similar benefit – or those who also cheated are brought to book. Both ‘solutions’ are unworkable.
    Conclusion: this was an outrageous ploy by a desensitised ego.

  4. Tipene

     /  19th July 2017

    From the 2002 NZ Herald article:

    “Mum (Meteria), an unsuccessful Auckland mayoral candidate last year and an unemployed contract lawyer who has worked for the Greens fulltime since March, said Ann Hartley HAD ALWAYS BEEN SUPPORTIVE of Piupiu, herself and her family”.

    You know what there is left after “always?”


    Anne Hartley valedictory speech 2008:

    “I simply could not have done this job without the love and support of my husband, Maurice. You have always been there for me, and this has made the difference. Michael, Joe, Paul, PIUPIU (Meteria’s chld), Ryan, Louie, Tricia and John, I thank you for all your love and support”

    My arse Turei didn’t have support for her and her kid.

    Statutory investigation and prosecution please – anything else = some people are above the law, and especially those who make it.

    • Brown

       /  19th July 2017

      Excellent. Sometimes I love the web’s retention of history and people’s sharing their boring lives because, like, everyone wants to know about us because we are so important. It looks like she’s a good little socialist and need is not a measure of entitlement. I would hope she’s now a poison chalice and finds herself out in the real world.

      • Corky

         /  19th July 2017

        Lol…post of the day, Browny. Lol, again. Your post is seriously funny( don’t know if Kitty would find it funny).

  5. PDB

     /  19th July 2017

    It’s all good in Turei’s world……..

  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  19th July 2017

    When Metiria pays back what she stole they’ll have more money to fix it with.

  7. PDB

     /  19th July 2017

    Turei accidently forgot to thank the taxpayer in this Australian Women’s Weekly article…….

    “But at the age of 23, a then-single Metiria discovered she was pregnant and realised she would have to make some drastic changes in her life. “My baby would need someone to care and provide for her and the only person in the world who was going to do that was me.”

    Soon after Piupiu’s birth, Metiria got her act together, enrolling at university for a second time. She threw herself into a law degree and, although studying full-time while raising her baby daughter was extremely challenging, Metiria – who remains in contact with Piupiu’s father – says the sacrifice was worth it.”

    Nice she remained in contact with her kid’s father, pity he didn’t legally help the taxpayer with his financial obligations. Apparently that’s why she says; “My baby would need someone to care and provide for her and the only person in the world who was going to do that was me.” (Oh, and the taxpayer).

    NZ Herald: “Turei had felt the sting of the sanction herself when she didn’t name the father of her daughter. She said she did it to protect him from Winz harassment with the goal to keep their relationship positive for their daughter”

    How nice for them – the welfare state is nasty like that in wanting deadbeat fathers to pay their fair share for kids they help bring into the world. Surely a self-professed welfare fraudster wouldn’t have not named the father in order to claim the full taxpayer benefit and also get cash under the table from him? Of course not, silly talk.

  8. duperez

     /  19th July 2017

    The old school politics that Armstrong worked with was probably the
    old school politics a lot of us worked with.

    We wanted a simple right angle, Turei needed one too but apparently there are many angles. Some of those are about the potential of her being a Minister and consequent conflicts around that .

    Let’s be harsh with Turei, line her up against the wall. Let that gesture and the politics of it speak for themselves.

    The politics of gestures and political judgement though are simply tied into what you can get away with. Moral judgements for all their certainty are just as whimsical and transitory as the morals they land on.

    While we’re getting at Turei look at all of Armstrong’s sentiments and apply them to another situation which came and passed. All the sentiments.

    Judith Collins, Oravida. Judith Collins Minister of Justice at the time.

    According to the old school politics of my time, her guts would’ve been garters very early in the piece. Gutted by all and sundry, gone forever, by lunchtime to use the vernacular, without words like “harsh” or “unfair” coming into it.

    And those measuring Turei’s offences with nuanced protractors, where were they then? Or since the Green MP’s transgression directly involved dollars and cents have some higher gods been offended?

    Truth is a strange commodity. The truth is that for all her reluctance to be truthful, Collins is seen by many, hoped by many, to be a future Prime Minister. The truth is that Metiria Turei shouldn’t have told the truth about her ‘90s lies.

    Flirting with whether ‘new school politics’ has taken the place of old school politics should expect a result with the same characteristics of the flighty, fickle, irrational characteristics of making moral judgements. As Turei is finding.

  1. Armstrong: Turei’s benefit fraud admission stinks — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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