The Turei show continues

Metiria Turei and media have ensured her confession about benefit fraud and her campaign for beneficiaries stayed as one of the biggest political stories.

Turei has advised that the Ministry of Social Development has been in touch with her after she wrote to them, and she will be interviewed next week.

She continued with her focus on beneficiaries in Parliament yesterday.

And media have widened the scope of their questions, including whether her daughter’s father was a flatmate, and what part if any the  father had in her support – Turei said this was a private matter.

As a press release from the Green Party:  Statement from Metiria Turei on MSD

“Today, I have spoken over the phone with an investigator from the Ministry of Social Development.

“I was phoned by this person after their office received a letter from me (attached), which I sent on Monday.

“The letter asserted my willingness to co-operate fully with an investigation into the period of time I received a benefit during the 1990s, and I confirmed that over the phone today.

“During our phone call, I made myself available to be interviewed about my case.

“We are in the process of confirming the details of that meeting, but it will take place next week.”

http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/1707/LettertoMSD.pdf

Patrick Gower: Conviction for fraud could see Metiria Turei quit Parliament

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei could be forced to quit Parliament if she is convicted of benefit fraud.

“While benefit fraud is legislated under the Social Security Act, we generally prosecute under the Crimes Act,” a spokeswoman for Ministry of Social Development told Newshub.

The charges usually used are:

  • Obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception (punishable by up to three years imprisonment)
  • Dishonestly taking or using document (punishable by up to seven years imprisonment)

Under the Electoral Act, if an MP is convicted of a crime punishable with a sentence of more than two years, they have to leave Parliament.

Ms Turei lied to get more money, and it goes back to when her daughter Piupiu was born. She says she had no other option, although she did have time to campaign for the McGillicuddy Serious Party in 1993 and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party in 1996.

Ms Turei was on the Domestic Purposes Benefit from 1993 until 1998. In three flats during that time, she lied about how many flatmates she had to get extra money.

My guess is that she will pay any money deemed to have been overpaid to her back but she won’t be prosecuted.

NZ Herald: Metiria Turei explains silence on flatmates in fraud case

In a sit-down interview with the Herald, Turei said she couldn’t condemn people who were faced with hard choices because of financial hardship.

“We have a system that leaves people with too few choices. That the only choices are bad ones. Not to pay the rent, not to pay the power bill, not to have enough food for your kids. Or, lie to WINZ and keep a secret.”

There is also the choice to work to supplement your income, or to live in a relationship with someone who contributes to your costs of living.

Metiria Turei won’t say whether one of the flatmates she failed to tell Work and Income about was a boyfriend – saying the state has no right to investigate a woman’s intimate personal life.

Actually the state does have a right under law to question whether someone claiming a sole parent benefit is living with a partner or not, and whether they are being supported by a partner. This is fundamental to how benefits are calculated and paid.

Asked if living with a partner without disclosing that to WINZ was more serious than failing to tell the agency about flatmates, Turei said it was treated differently by the agency.

“And one of the things that I will do if I get the chance is to fix that system so a woman’s personal life is not subject to questions by WINZ, by MSD. We have seen a lot of that directed at solo mums.

Currently a person stops being eligible for sole parent support if they are in a relationship.

Like it or not, that’s the rules now and it was when Turei was a beneficiary.

She said that the need to care for her baby and not her political beliefs led her to lie to Work and Income. Turei campaigned for the McGillicuddy Serious Party while receiving her benefit, and was a part of a theatre group.

“None of us had any money. I think that’s the thing – people on benefits are entitled to a life as well. They need the financial resources so they can pay the rent and put food on the table, they need a pathway out of welfare.

“But they also need to engage in the world, to be able to be with family, to have friends, to do other things, be politically engaged if that is what they choose. We shouldn’t have a benefit system that locks people out of their community.”

Some like Turei think that the state should fund a choice of lifestyle.

Others cut back on some of their social life when they have children, and when they are on a benefit.

Audrey Young:  Metiria Turei turns spotlight on her own failures

MSD investigators would not be doing their job if they did not ask whether one of the flatmates was a boyfriend living in a de facto relationship and whether they could talk to some of the flatmates.

That would elevate the issue from an overpayment to a more serious breach of the law. It is a simple question Turei has repeatedly failed to answer because she believes that the state is intruding on private lives.

On the other hand, she might discover that any offending is considered at the lowest level or that there was no offending at all because she was within the flatmate allowance.

But the actual offending and any debt has been of less concern to many of Turei’s critics than her attitude which has remained one of unswerving entitlement to break the law.

This is where Turei has got herself and her party into a quagmire from which it will be difficult to extricate itself.

Her sense of entitlement to break the law has invited a host of examples moral equivalents – hypothetical offending by other types of people, including say farmers, and other types of offending, including say tax fraud, in order to justify getting more money to feed the kids.

Many people starting small businesses suffer from financial hardship for some time, and it’s not uncommon to not pay taxes because there is a choice between that and feeding their families and paying basic bills.

But taxes shouldn’t be just waived for anyone who claims to be in financial hardship.

In the meantime, the focus is finally starting to turn away from Turei and towards the Greens’ new social welfare policy which is to remove sanctions and obligations from welfare recipients.

That includes women receiving sole parent support (the old Dpb) living with their boyfriends.

Under the Green Party policy, a man and woman can be living in a de facto relationship for three years with one of them working and earning and the other getting a benefit without losing the benefit.

There are not too many people who would see that as the fair application of a safety net.

Under that policy the state would need the right to investigate someone’s private circumstances, unless the Greens want it to operate on a trust system, where it’s leader says that breaking the law to get more benefit is justifiable.

Turei’s actions were designed to turn a spotlight on the failures of the system. They have instead turned the spotlight on her own failures as a politician.

This could become a quagmire for Turei and the Greens. I don’t know how well they thought this through before making an issue of it – I suspect some idealistic tunnel vision may have missed the possible jeopardy.

Leave a comment

42 Comments

  1. What was the original purpose of the DPB? What? to support women and their children when they were ABANDONED by their partners and had no ability to provide for themselves…

    But we get this from MeTu “And one of the things that I will do if I get the chance is to fix that system so a woman’s personal life is not subject to questions by WINZ, by MSD. We have seen a lot of that directed at solo mums.” When discussing “solo” mums living with their boyfriend….

    If your living with your boyfriend your in a partnership – you haven’t been abandoned to fend for yourself!!! So you can’t be a solo mum fffs!!

    Yip – the DPB, or whatever they call it now, is about a woman choosing to have children and being paid by the state to do that regardless of their circumstances based on MeTu’s stance set out in the interview – so married woman with a wealthy partner who earns moonbeams still qualifies according to MeTu because ascertaining the womans partnership status is prying into their intimate lives?????….

    Insanity has arrived. I don’t work and pay significant taxes directly and indirectly to support someone deciding they want children and the taxpayers agent, the government, should just fork over a significant sum annually no questions asked to supposed “solo” mums no questions asked or required to be answered…

    Unbelievable, just simply unbelieveable.

    She is a proven liar, filer of false declarations and fraudster. All by her own admission. What are the Greens thinking? Seriously what are they thinking?

    But your right PG – it will be a wet bus ticket were others in the same or similar circumstances would get the book thrown at them and face serious charges… I wonder how Carmel Sepuloni feels about all this: isn’t her mum doing time for benefit fraud?

    Reply
  2. On a plus note, post election could seen another senior female party member take the coleader position, I’m biased of course due to the wonderful stroke of luck with the medical cannabis bill being pulled. 🙂
    Metiria’s days are numbered I suspect.

    Reply
  3. Corky

     /  July 27, 2017

    This bushfire is out of control for the Greens. In another unbelievable move yesterday, Greens co-leader, James Shaw, stated he was 100% behind Earth Mother.

    Is this guy nuts? Has he got a death wish? He will now go the same way as Earth Mother, post election. Shaw obviously doesn’t know that in politics when the dog gets fleas…you flee.

    Reply
    • Zedd

       /  July 27, 2017

      Earth to Corkey.. WTF are you on about now ??

      btw; did you hear your hero; mr T has declared himself the ‘Greatest Prez. EVER… besides Lincoln’
      “I just close my eyes again.. & climbed aboard the Dream-Weaver train…..’ 😀

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  July 27, 2017

        “I just close my eyes again.. & climbed aboard the Dream-Weaver train…..”

        Excellent…stay there.

        Reply
        • Zedd

           /  July 27, 2017

          its a ‘message 2U corkey’ ho ho hum

          Reply
        • Zedd

           /  July 27, 2017

          that was my advice to you.. actually corkey

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  July 27, 2017

            Even better. I have this thread put away for post election analysis.

            ”Earth to Corkey.. WTF are you on about now ?? ”

            Well, Zedd%… lets wait and see.

            Reply
  4. Zedd

     /  July 27, 2017

    what about this ‘often ignored fact’: Mr English was called the ‘double dipper from Dipton’ when he claimed housing costs for his ‘family home’ in Dipton, whilst he & his whole family were based (work & school) in Wellington !

    **Oh thats right..the Natz can do NO wrong ? oh really :/

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  July 27, 2017

      The rights indignation is very…selective and rarely…measured.

      Reply
    • He claimed for his “Wellington” residence as his official Ministerial residence.

      Reply
      • Zedd

         /  July 27, 2017

        @Trav
        I may have got it around the wrong way.. BUT IF his ‘home’ was really in Dipton (as he claimed) how come his wife & kids were ALL living, working & schooling in Wlgtn too ?

        methinks.. ‘some dishonesty’ may have occurred, & is he the only Natz MP who did this ??
        Its easy to attack your ‘opponents’ while totally ignoring the GREAT BIG elephant in the room..

        Reply
      • Blazer

         /  July 27, 2017

        His guilt…ensured he repaid the. .money…over k30.NATZ PM material. Bol.

        Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  July 27, 2017

          As usual, Blaze doesn’t let facts get in the way – the repayment by Bill was for the difference of what he received and what the new rules allowed – “around $12,000” – that is a long way off “over 30k”.

          Also, it was the John Key National Government who fixed the issue up to save costs. As it turns out Bill didn’t break any rules – it just “looked bad”.

          Reply
    • Trevors_elbow

       /  July 27, 2017

      SQUIRREL!!!!!!!! It’s been done ta death Zeddy. … and was how long ago? We are talking about your heroine in the here and now, as much as it upsets ya….

      Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  July 27, 2017

      The left conveniently forget that Mr English in claiming the allowance acted on Parliamentary Services advice.
      It turned out the advice he was given was incorrect and he paid the money back.
      There was never any question of wrongdoing or deliberately gaming the system.
      If you feel that equates with systematic fraud over a number of years, all power to you.

      Reply
  5. The people from IRD they set onto fraudsters aren’t nice people. They’re brutal. No walk in the park, fess up and pay over. There’ll be the sort of investigation and hefty penalties they’re known for and 25 years of them. Also expect ramifications for Paul Hartley

    Reply
  6. Patzcuaro

     /  July 27, 2017

    If Turei had tackled the issue by going to the Ministry of Social Development prior to taking the issue public she may have survived. But as it is it is untenable for her to be given a ministry in any future Labour/Green government. It is up to the Greens who they have as co-leaders but I can’t see how Turei can continue. She should stand down and let someone else without so much baggage take up the role.

    Time will tell how this plays out, maybe Turei will achieve some change or it may just be an own goal close to full time.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  July 27, 2017

      P.Mike Bill English repaid over k30. of taxpayers money. ..he was NOT. ..entitled. .to.ende.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  July 27, 2017

        Why wasn’t he prosecuted?

        Reply
        • Because what he did wasn’t illegal. As the Dep PM he was entitled to a free house. Traditionally Dep PMs had Vogel House – gratis. In fact Jim Anderson lived in it in the prior Lab Govt, however when it came to English’s turn It was being renovated. He used as and justifiably claimed his own house as Ministerial residence.

          Not illegal. Only reason he paid it back was because it became a distraction.

          Reply
          • JIm Anderton

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  July 27, 2017

              Oh shit! So there’s actually NO COMPARISON?

          • Blazer

             /  July 27, 2017

            Not according to the. ..duck.

            Reply
            • High Flying Duck

               /  July 27, 2017

              What you talking about? What Bill did was NOT illegal, but it was an incorrect interpretation of the rules by Parliamentary services.

      • Gezza

         /  July 27, 2017

        Why wasn’t he prosecuted or sanctioned? Have you checked? I think he was censured.

        Reply
        • Maybe morally because of the GFC?

          Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  July 27, 2017

          He made the accommodation claim on parliamentary services advice that he could. It turned out the advice was wrong and he repaid the money.

          Reply
  7. Ray

     /  July 27, 2017

    He wasn’t prosecuted or sanctioned because what he did was not illegal.
    And was no more illegal than the similar rort the Green Party pull using various Green identities to lease their housing from.
    The difference is Bill could see it was a bad look so paid the excess money back, the Greens, not yet.
    https://www.nbr.co.nz/article/double-dipping-ministers-face-scrutiny-107004

    Reply
  8. High Flying Duck

     /  July 27, 2017

    For those trying to equate the BE double dip with Turei, they should perhaps look at what the Greens were doing with their accommodation before getting on high horses.

    The Green party purchased properties in a Trust and then rented them for double market value to MP’s who claimed the cost back from Parliamentary services. All a silly misunderstanding of course:

    “The Green Party admitted earlier that two of its MPs had claimed about double the market value for rent on its apartments between February and May this year.

    It has since repaid about $6,000 to Parliamentary Services.

    The party said it was an honest mistake and not the result of dodgy dealing.

    A superannuation trust established by the party owns two properties in Wellington, which are rented to three Green MPs.

    One of the houses is shared by Jeanette Fitzsimons and Catherine Delahunty. Co-leader Metiria Turei says expense claims were not sorted out properly when Ms Delahunty moved in.”

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/33913/greens'-mistake-a-lesson-to-other-parties-pm

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  July 27, 2017

      2 wrongs…never make a..right..an argument that reeks of…desperation.

      Reply
      • High Flying Duck

         /  July 27, 2017

        You’re right Blazer – as it turns out the Greens were (again) the ones being fraudulent whereas Bill was acting on advice and rectified it when brought to light – thanks for clearing that up.

        Reply
      • Seems to me it was Zedd who brought the English Ministerial house claim up, with you on second trombone.

        The Greens, as illustrated above are not at all beyond running taxpayer roots, so let’s just calm down and stop pretending they’re anything but human and very flawed.

        Turei has admitted to sustained fraud and she’s illustrated zero remorse as she thinks she’s owed. Very few in this country, and they’re already voting for her, see her as anything but a thief.

        Reply
      • Yes your arguments on this one certainly do…

        Reply
  9. Gezza

     /  July 27, 2017

    It’s all getting very *mature* here today, don’t you reckon, Sir Alan? 💂

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s