Poll on Turei’s benefit fraud, and some awkward information

Newshub-Reid Research poll tonight:

Was it wrong for Metiria Turei to lie to get a bigger benefit?

  • Yes 73.9%
  • No 18.3%
  • Don’t know 7.8%

Even half of Green supporters thought it was wrong – by party:

  • National 85%
  • NZ First 77%
  • Labour 67%
  • Green 51%

Newshub has uncovered more questions: More questions raised about Metiria Turei’s living situation

Ms Turei says she claimed a benefit between 1993 and 1998. The habitation index – that’s an official public record of addresses collated from the electoral roll – shows Ms Turei listed at the same address as her daughter’s father, Paul Hartley, in both 1993 and 1994.

That’s significant – if she was living at the same address as her baby’s father she would not have been eligible for the benefit she claimed, the Domestic Purposes Benefit.

We showed the evidence to Ms Turei on Tuesday, and asked whether the electoral roll had not been updated or whether the father was living with Ms Turei.

“I’m not sure”, “I’d have to have a look”, “I was living in Mt Eden at the time”, she told Newshub.

“I’m not talking about the personal relationships or other people.”

The index also shows that in 1996 and 1998 Ms Turei was listed at the same address as her mother, Janice.

“I’m not talking about my flatmates,” she said.

These facts wouldn’t have been known by those who were polled.

The Newshub-Reid Research poll was conducted July 20-28. 1000 people were surveyed, 750 by telephone and 250 by internet panel. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

 

Today Turei visited the Ministry of Social Development:  Turei shaken after grilling by MSD investigators

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei has been grilled about her benefit history at a meeting with investigators from the Ministry of Social Development.

The ministry is investigating after Mrs Turei revealed last month she lied to Work and Income as a young solo mother in the early 1990s so her benefit would not be reduced.

She had gone into the meeting saying she was nervous, and had emerged appearing a little shaken.

“That’s part of what we’re trying to show people, that it’s very hard to deal with the agency. They were very good to me, but I don’t think that’s the experience of most people who have to deal with MSD.”

She reiterated she will pay back any money she owed, although that amount was still unknown. The ministry would send her a list of questions to answer before another meeting was set up, but there was no indication of whether that would happen before the September election.

Turei was still intent on making points about what she feels is an inadequate system.

UPDATE: Statement from Metiria Turei

“I was the sole provider for my daughter. I was fully financially responsible for us both.

“I did not live at the same address as the father of my child.

“I was, however, enrolled to vote at the same address as him, which was in the Mt Albert electorate. A friend of mine was running as a candidate in Mt Albert in 1993, and I wished to vote for them.

“That was a mistake – one of many I, like many other people, made as a young person.

“I also wish to confirm that my mother was my flatmate for a period during the mid-1990s.

“We were financially independent while living together in the same home,” said Mrs Turei.

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.

Police pay damages to Hager’s daughter

The Police stuffed up when they raided Nicky Hager’s house while he was away in October 2014.

Today lawyer Felix Geiringer has advised that the Police have agreed to pay damages and costs to Hager’s daughter, who was home at the time, had her bedroom searched, and had her computer and phone seized.

Police pay-out for Hager raid

In a further development of the legal proceedings over the Police raid of the home of investigative journalist Nicky Hager, the Police have today settled a claim brought by Nicky Hager’s daughter.

Nicky Hager’s home was raided by Police in October 2014. The raid was part of an investigation into the source of Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics. In December of last year, the High Court ruled that the warrant that was used for the raid was “fundamentally unlawful”. The Police are not appealing that decision.

Nicky Hager’s daughter was the only one home when the Police turned up to raid the house. She had to stay and watch the 10-hour raid of her home. The Police search included a search of her bedroom and private belongings. The Police seized and cloned her phone and laptop. The laptop was kept by the Police for over four months. This all happened two weeks before she was due to submit her end-of-degree University papers.

The Police have agreed to pay Nicky Hager’s daughter damages and her costs. They have also agreed to destroy all copies of her information taken during the raid and copied. On that basis, his daughter has agreed to discontinue her proceedings against the Police.

Claims brought by Nicky Hager against the Police following the raid on his home are still ongoing.

During the case brought by Nicky Hager the Court directed that the names of some of those involved, including Nicky Hager’s daughter, not be released in relation to that proceeding.

It was a futile raid that was botched by the Police, at least they have agreed to settle on this.

Threats of gang rape against daughter

The Whale Oil versus (some) West Coasters fracas has escalated. I’ve seen some awful and gutless threats made already, including death threats against Cameron Slater.

But one threat on Facebook is, as Rex Widerstrom says, several bridges too far.

Cameron Slater

This is the sort of caring things that the ferals on the West Coast have to say…threatening gang rape against my 15 year old daughter.

Whale Oil threatNow do you see why I call these scum ferals.

That is disgraceful. Yes, emotions are running high on this spat, which began over an insensitive blog post about the death of a young person from the Coast.

Continuing to refer to ‘feral’ and ‘scum’ is perhaps now understandable but unwise, as it was unwise in the beginning.

But to make a threat like this against an innocent girl is despicable. That goes beyond angry reaction, to consider making a public threat like, let alone making it, is very disturbing.

I hope the police deal with this – but unfortunately severe damage has already been done, both to innocent family and to the reputation of the West Coast.

People on both sides of this slanging match need to pull back and deal with these reprehensible attacks and threats.