Who leaked, and was there an accomplice?

It appears that most people assume that Jami-Lee Ross is lying when he denies the leak of Simon Bridges’ expenses that set off the spiralling saga that resulted in chaos this week.

What if Ross is right about this (he has misled and lied about other things)? It would be hard to imagine that there was a completely unrelated leaker involved, especially as Ross has admitted leaking subsequent information.

So a likely answer is that Ross had an accomplice. Someone else may have done the actual leaking of Bridges’ expenses – however this does not rule out the possibility that Ross supplied them with the information.

Tova O’Brien at Newshub reported on the initial leak so will know who provided her with the information, so it’s worth looking to Newshub coverage.

Newshub (20 October) – The Jami-Lee Ross and expenses leak mega-scandal: A timeline

August 13 – Newshub reveals Simon Bridges’ expenses a few days before they were due to be made public.

August 14 – Simon Bridges says he’s confident the source of the leak isn’t anyone in the National Party. He calls for an independent review.

If Ross used a proxy leaker then this may technically be correct.

August 16 – Mr Bridges, Speaker Trevor Mallard and Newshub political editor Tova O’Brien receive a text message from the leaker asking for the inquiry to be called off as they’re suffering from a “prolonged mental illness”. The sender also claims to be a member of the National Party caucus. None of this is reported until a week later.

The sender is apparently Ross, but has at least implied he was acting on someone else’s behalf. This in turn implies that he knows who the leaker was.

August 18 – Right-wing blogger Cameron Slater says there is “back channel chatter” the leaker is a member of the National Party caucus. He doesn’t name names.

What Slater claims has to be treated with caution. He likes to big note and tries to sound like he is deeply involved in action, but often just hints and often doesn’t front up with evidence.

Coincidentally perhaps Slater is known to be suffering from a “prolonged mental illness”.

September 15 – Simon Bridges says if it turns out an MP leaked his expenses, he wouldn’t necessarily sack them. He said he’d be “incredibly disappointed” if it turned out to be a National MP or staffer, but it wasn’t “worth getting too hung-up on”.

September 19 – Winston Peters tells Parliament everyone there already knows who the leaker is, while looking at Jami-Lee Ross’ vacant seat.

What Peters claims has to be treated with caution. He often makes accusations and insinuations without fronting upo with evidence.

He said if Simon Bridges doesn’t tell the public who the leaker is, he will. Blogger Cameron Slater says MPs and “well-informed” journalists know who the leaker is, as they’re being “shunned by caucus”.

As is common with Peters he didn’ back up his bluster – but it’s interesting that both Slater and Peters are making similar claims they know the leaker’s identity. More about this in another post.

September 30 – Winston Peters uses his platform at NZ First’s 25th anniversary celebrations to say Simon Bridges will be rolled as National Party leader before the 2020 election.

So, did Peters know that Ross was involved in what looks like an elaborate plan (that included Ross recording conversations with Bridges at least as far back as May, where Ross appears to try to entrap Bridges) to discredit Bridges and force him out of the leadership?

October 2 – Simon Bridges announces Jami-Lee Ross will be stepping down from the National Party front bench and taking leave from Parliament to deal with some personal health issues. Mr Bridges says it has nothing to do with the expenses inquiry.

October 4 – Jami-Lee Ross is reportedly “pissed off” with Simon Bridges for calling his problems “embarrassing”

October 15 – One of the most intense weeks in New Zealand political history begins with The AM Show’s Duncan Garner confronting Simon Bridges with a fresh set of leaks.

Later that day, right before Mr Bridges was due to reveal the inquiry’s findings, Mr Ross launches a pre-emptive attack on Twitter. He said he and the National leader had a falling out, denied being the leaker and accused Mr Bridges of breaking the law.

Mr Bridges minutes later says the inquiry had found Mr Ross was the likely leaker.

Also from Newshub yesterday: The ultimate guide to all the players in the Jami-Lee Ross vs Simon Bridges showdown

The headline says ‘all the players’, but the article states:

Here are the main players in the continuing saga.

One could assume that the original leaker was a ‘main player’.

Jami-Lee Ross – former National MP for Botany

That’s an odd description. Ross is a former National MP but he is still the MP for Botany (now an independent MP).

Minutes before his leader was to address media and out Mr Ross as the alleged leaker of his expenses, Mr Ross sent a series of tweets accusing Mr Bridges of falsely pinning blame on him.

Other ‘main players’ mention include Ross of course plus Simon Bridges, Paula Bennett, and Simon Lusk could be a main player. It is still not clear if Winston Peters is a main player.

There are a number of others named who seem far from being main players – National MPs Todd McClay Maureen Pugh, Judith Collins and Mark Mitchell.

Also named are Peter Goodfellow (National Party president), Greg Hamilton (National Party general manager), Aaron Bhatnagar, Zhang Yikun, and June Brigg (Pugh’s mother). They were only involved after accusations by Ross of donation problems and the release of a recording. I don’t think there is any suspicion that Pugh’s mum was the leaker.

There is no mention of any association with ‘leaker’ other than Ross.

Stuff in Personal and professional pain: Widening repercussions for MP Jami-Lee Ross

One long week later, Ross still emphatically denies he was the leaker.

​The person who started it all may still be out there – and if so, that person is probably looking on absolutely incredulous.

Maybe, maybe not. Few people seem to trust Ross, and most seem to now assume that he was the leaker despite his denials. If he got someone to do the dirty work for him to create some sort of ‘plausible denial’ it may be immaterial in the whole scheme of things.

The investigation that Bridges insisted on says that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ it looks like Ross was the leaker.

If not he was at least likely to have been involved.

While Cameron Slater is notoriously unreliable with what he claims, he has repeated a number of times he has known that Ross was ‘the leaker’ – like “He’s the leaker. Just accept that. I’ve known for months. The report confirms precisely what I have known.”

In any case, while the initial leak precipitated this chain of events it was not a big deal. What has become the big deal is Ross’ obvious big play to discredit and depose Bridges, and to cause as much mayhem and damage for National that he can.

Whether Ross leaked the expenses or not, whether he leaked them too someone who leaked them, is not important now.

What is important is that Ross appears to have been planning an attack on Bridges and National for months, and the leak was just used as a way of trying to precipitate chaos.

 

Mallard and Parliamentary Services cleared of Bridges leaked

A lack of evidence connecting Trevor Mallard or Parliamentary Services to the leak of Simon Bridges’ expenses makes more of a mountain out of what looks increasingly like a mole in the National Party.

RNZ:  Bridges’ expenses inquiry narrows down possible leakers

Mr Mallard initially called a Parliamentary inquiry into the leak but that was overtaken by political events.

His inquiry ended in August after RNZ revealed the person claiming to be both the leaker and a National MP contacted Mr Bridges and Mr Mallard pleading for it to be stopped for the sake of their mental health.

Subsequently, a National Party inquiry was launched – the findings are expected in the next week.

Mr Mallard arranged a forensic investigation of emails and relevant databases connected to his office and those staff involved in the preparation of the expenses – about 20 staff in total.

KPMG, who carried it out, has concluded there is no evidence that Mr Mallard or any Parliamentary Service finance staff were responsible for the leak.

“On the basis of this independent review there is no evidence that staff in the office of the Speaker, Mr Speaker or Parliamentary Service finance and corporate staff released details of this quarterly expense disclosure report to any unauthorised parties,” the report said.

This doesn’t surprise me – why on earth would Mallard or anyone in Parliamentary Services leak expenses information that was due to be officially released a few days later? It defies logic.

With those possibilities ruled out that leaves National MPs and their staff or someone in the National Party.

Mr Bridges has repeatedly insisted none of his MPs were responsible but now that Mr Mallard has all but cleared his own name, his office staff and the Parliamentary Service staff involved in the preparation of the expenses, the finger of blame is pointing to the National Party.

The National Party’s own investigation is being led by PWC and Simpson Grierson.

It will consider both the original leak to Newshub and the subsequent text sent by someone citing mental health issues.

PWC will conduct the forensic work and lawyers at Simpson Grierson will be responsible for filtering what information is and is not passed onto Mr Bridges and his deputy, Paula Bennett.

So this bizarre issue will keep festering away for Bridges for a while yet.

If the leaker is discovered and revealed to be a National MP that will be tricky for Bridges to deal with.

If Bridges decides not to reveal the outcome of the inquiry it will be tricky for Bridges.

It’s hard to see a good outcome for Bridges. He may have created a mountain of a mess from a mole in his party.

“Massive increase” in MP funding, most for Government MPs

The Speaker has tabled a report in parliament proposing that MPs, especially Government MPs, may be given substantially more funding – like 20% – plus extra staff for Ministers, just two weeks after two weeks ago Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a’nobly prudent’ freeze of MP salaries – MP pay frozen and fairer system for increases developed:

“Today Cabinet agreed to freeze MP Pay till July 2019, and to reassess the funding formula used by the Authority to ensure it is fair and in keeping with this Government’s expectations and values,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Ardern made a big deal about this in some sort of principle of fairness and to close the income gap – “It is about values. We are focused on raising the income on lower to middle income earners”.

NZH: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces salary freeze for MPs

The latest pay rise, of 3 per cent, was due to kick in later this month and be backdated to July 1 but Parliament will pass a bill under urgency to freeze the current pay for a year.

Ardern said it is not appropriate for MPs to be subject to such an increase.

“It is about values. We are focused on raising the income on lower to middle income earners,” she said.

Ardern said the way the draft increase had been determined did not seem fair.

“We do not believe, given that we are at the upper end of the scale, that we should be receiving that sort of increase.

“The current formula isn’t meeting our expectations.

“What we have seen in this determination I believe is out of kilt with those expectations.

“This is about us acknowledging that we are at the top end … and this only extends that gap.”

But the salary gesture pales in comparison to expence increases proposed for MPs, especially list MPs.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog: Massive increase proposed for MPs expenses

The Speaker has tabled a report which proposes a massive massive increase in funding for MPs, almost all of it to benefit Government MPs.

We’ve got the Government turning down a 3% pay rise, which is chicken feed compared to the 20% increase in funding that has been proposed for them.

The details will make your blood boil. They overwhelmingly benefit the Government. The major changes proposed are:

are:

  • List MPs to get the same funding as Electorate MPs. 34 of the 49 List MPs are Government MPs. It is a huge boost for Labour, Greens and NZ First. It is also wrong as Electorate MPs have far greater demands on them. They represent an actual constituency and need extra staff to deal with all the constituent issues. Many List MPs do very little constituency work, and any extra funding will go on advertising and campaigning.
  • Parties won’t lose funding if they lose MPs at an election. At the moment a party gets funded based on their actual number of MPs. Totally sensible. This report proposes a gerrymander where National and Labour get guaranteed 38% of the funding regardless of their number of MPs, and NZ First and Greens get 8% minimum, again regardless of their number of MPs.
  • Also outrageous is it proposes Ministers get extra staff. Ministers already get totally funded for their staffing needs through Ministerial Services. And the number of staff is already 13% higher than the last Government. This report proposes each Minister also get an additional staffer funded through The Parliamentary Service. So a huge boost of 30 more staff for the Government. It also may allow Ministers to avoid the OIA by having one of their staff working for The Parliamentary Service instead of Ministerial Services.
  • And bad enough this $13 million increase in funding for MPs, but they want to have it get even bigger every year. They recommend an automatic 3.3% to 3.7% increase every year, which means Parliament will be the only public sector organisation that doesn’t have to make a business case to justify extra spending.

This proposal is a huge rort designed to massively increase funding for Government MPs.

And it is the Government that effectively decides whether or not to accept the recommendations.

Farrar seems a bit against this, perhaps for good reason. The quoted cost is accurate:

Our recommendations include indicative costs where these are available, and these show that the package of
recommendations will involve a significant investment in the first year to support the lift in performance of our
democracy. Across all of the funding, this represents approximately $13.0 to $13.5 million per year.

$13 million works out at $108,333 per MP, but it sounds like it will go disproportionately to Ministers and list MPs.

That’s a lot more than a 3% salary increase would cost.

It will be interesting to hear what Ardern thinks about this.

 

 

Bizarre and more bizarre expenses leak – questions unanswered

It was a bizarre day yesterday as revelations and media conferences added information but raised further questions in the already odd case of the leaked expenses of Simon Bridges.

Just one bizarre part of yesterday’s unfolding was Tova O’Brien, the Newshub journalist who broke the story in the first place after being provided with leaked information, riding a high horse criticising RNZ for adding to her story yesterday, claiming insensitivities when someone was a significant mental health risk.

The inquiry into the leak has been called off, but National party internal inquiries should be continuing, as should journalist inquiries.

Sam Sachdeva (Newsroom): Fittingly strange end to leak scandal  – I don’t think it is anywhere near the end of the leak saga, but there is a good summary:

Speaker Trevor Mallard’s decision to call off an investigation into the leak of MPs’ expenses, following a text message from the leaker saying their health was at risk, has put an ellipsis rather than a full stop on “Limogate”.

As first reported by RNZ, the anonymous texter contacted National leader Simon Bridges and Speaker Trevor Mallard last week, urging an end to the investigation due to fears it would worsen their serious mental health issues.

The texter claimed to be a National MP, providing evidence which supposedly could only have been obtained if that was in fact the case.

The original decision to leak the expenses to the media only days before they were due for release was puzzling enough.

Then there was Bridges’ reaction, initially brushing off the media attention only to change his mind and call for a High Court judge to look into the matter (he got a Queen’s Counsel instead, with Michael Heron QC in the job for all of 24 hours).

In a week where news presenter Greg Boyed’s death has put the spotlight on New Zealand’s high rates of depression and suicide, responding with anything other than sensitivity and care would have been cruel.

We have been assured that the leaker was having mental health difficulties but whose life should not be at risk any more if it ever was (it’s unknown whether the plea to end the inquiry was genuinely fraught, or was an attempt at a form of emotional blackmail.

On balance, you could argue both Bridges and Mallard made good decisions: Bridges in contacting the police so they could identify the person and provide support, and Mallard in deciding that the leaker’s wellbeing outweighed any benefits of pushing ahead with an inquiry.

Bridges disagrees with the Speaker’s call, but if there is any question of someone’s health being at risk then that is what should be the top priority.

While Bridges suggests the integrity of Parliament is at sake, Mallard’s reading of the text has led him to conclude that it is almost certainly a member of National’s caucus or wider staff who is responsible.

I think that Bridges must make it publicly clear what the outcome is. If a National MP tries to quietly resign in a while it will be immediately seen as to have a connection, or at least suspected.

If it is a staff member or someone else who is not an MP, failing to reveal details leaves all 56 of the National MPs under suspicion. That is unfair on them.

For the ultimate good of the culprit, and for the good of the National caucus, we need to be told more.

Inquiry into leak of Bridges’ expenses

I’m not sure whether most of the public will care much about the leaking of Simon Bridges’ expenses, but it seems to have been a big deal for Bridges, for the Speaker, and for political journalists who have given it a lot of coverage.

RNZ:  Inquiry launched into leak on Simon Bridges’ expenses

Parliament’s speaker, Trevor Mallard, said a Queen’s Counsel would lead the inquiry with the help of an employment lawyer and also someone with forensic IT skills.

Mr Mallard said he spoke to Mr Bridges and they agreed there was an issue about the security of information, which could potentially be quite serious.

“The inquiry will look at who forwarded [the information] to whom, and also who else had access to the data which was very specific data at a very specific point in time and who did access it and for what purpose,” Mr Mallard said.

“The general manager of the Parliamentary Service has used his authority to give full access to all of the core Parliamentary Service computers for that purpose, so there is not a question of having to ask people’s permission.

“As far as [MPs] are concerned there are matters of privilege and consent or a waiver will be necessary.”

Mr Mallard said he would ask Mr Bridges to make sure all his MPs signed the waiver allowing access to their computers.

“I’m not putting a start date or a finish date on this inquiry – it might well be the fact that the level of expertise that is coming into it causes someome to put their hand up, because unless they have incredible expertise – they will be identified.”

Asked whether all of the National MPs would sign the access waiver, shadow leader of the House Gerry Brownlee said “yes they will – we’re pretty hot under the collar about it”.

If it turns out an MP has leaked the information – their identity will be made public, but if it is a Parliamentary Service staff member Mr Mallard said that would be an employment matter.

RNZ – Simon Bridges spending leak: Consensus over need for inquiry

Not even Mr Mallard was free of the waiver – although he said it was already on the record that neither he nor his office received the travel expenses electronically, which was how they were leaked to media.

Mr Mallard said there was no escaping cyber experts.

“The inquiry will look at who forwarded [the information] to whom, and also who else had access to the data which was very specific data at a very specific point in time,” Mr Mallard said.

“The general manager of the Parliamentary Service has used his authority to give full access to all of the core Parliamentary Service computers for that purpose, so there is not a question of having to ask people’s permission.”

Mr Brownlee welcomed the investigation and said National had no issues with any of the inquiry’s waiver requirements because they were all “hot under the collar” about the leak.

“Anything that goes into a server stays there no matter what you do with it.”

A Queen’s Counsel will lead the inquiry with the help of an employment lawyer and a forensic information technology expert.

I don’t remember seeing this level of cooperation and determination to identify a leaker.

It’s interesting that Bridges is making such a big deal of it, as his big spending was the focus of the leak.

It would be embarrassing if the culprit turns out to be a National MP, and will ignite inevitable claims of disunity – but if that’s the case Bridges may benefit in the longer term if an enemy within his caucus is outed.

Funnily Newshub – who published the leaked Bridges expenses, yesterday published expense details of all National MPs, but that seems to have been largely ignored. Most attention was given to the leak inquiry.


Newsroom: Will ‘Limogate’ investigation reach top gear?

(I think -gate labels like this are dated and stupid, especially when used for relatively trivial issues).

After all, this was not classified or confidential information: it was already due to be released as part of a wider disclosure regime, with the leaker simply jumping the gun by a few days.

There’s no suggestion that Bridges has been misusing taxpayer money by taking his Crown car on personal joyrides.

After all, this was not classified or confidential information: it was already due to be released as part of a wider disclosure regime, with the leaker simply jumping the gun by a few days.

As for National leader Simon Bridges’ spending, as highlighted by Newshub – the organisation which received the leak – that’s also less than thrilling.

There’s no suggestion that Bridges has been misusing taxpayer money by taking his Crown car on personal joyrides.

It’s not the “what”, but the “who” and “why” which is most intriguing.

Why leak something which is going to be released all and sundry anyway? It seems a high risk, low reward move, given the likely punishment if they’re caught.

The Speaker seems intent on making it a big deal, presumably to warn off other would be leakers.

If someone is caught they may become a major scapegoat for what has been a common part of politics.

Bridges expenses leak – sow’s ear out of public purse

It’s hard to work out what the aim of the leak of Simon Bridges’ expenses was, given they will be officially released soon anyway. And it’s hard to get very excited about the media overkill of the story.

It raises more questions over the motives of the leaker and the journalist than over Bridges’ expenses.

RNZ – Bridges: National caucus didn’t leak travel expenses

Opposition leader Simon Bridges is standing by his MPs, saying he doesn’t believe one of them leaked his travel expenses to media.

Mr Bridges is defending the roughly $84,000 he clocked up travelling around the country in a Crown limousine between April and June.

He said he might never get to the bottom of who leaked the information before it was due to be published but said it was not his caucus.

RNZ – Bridges’ expenses leak: Prime Minister claims Labour had no part

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she asked Ministerial Services to clarify exactly who had access to the National Party’s expenses, and it had been confirmed to her that only the National Party caucus did.

“We’ve had it confirmed that no-one in Labour ever actually had access to that information and it would be improper if we would have,” she said.

“The only groups as I understand who will have had access will be the opposition themselves and the Speaker.”

Mr Mallard denied being the source of the leak and was personally looking to ensure the information did not land in the hands of anybody it should not have.

A number of MPs have denied leaking the information, but that’s hardly news. I don’t recall any MP ever admitting leaking.

Newshub reporter Tova O’Brien has copped some flak for breaking the story, with accusations she has been a party to a political hit job.

Stuff Editorial: Simon Bridges expenses leak seems like a bit of a ‘beat-up’

Quite apart from the fact we have no firm idea who leaked National Party leader Simon Bridges’ expenses, ahead of their official release by the Parliamentary Service next week, it’s difficult to know exactly what the leaker hoped to achieve beyond a lot of shoulder-shrugging.

On Tuesday, Ardern was quick to say she could “categorically rule it out” when asked if the leak came from her party, pointing out that the only groups with access to Bridges’ expenses were National, and Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard, who did not attend Labour caucus meetings. That was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the Parliamentary Service, which naturally has access to the information as the agency responsible for releasing it.

Bridges was quick to say the leak had not come from his caucus, though he conceded he did not have “perfect information on that”. Mallard said he had launched an inquiry into the source of the leak, and also cast doubt on the accuracy of the figures.

But assuming they are accurate, and Bridges, with his reported tally of $83,693, indeed spent $35,000 more on travel in a Crown limousine over the past three months than then-Opposition leader Andrew Little did in the corresponding period last year, so what?

It’s widely known he has just completed a 12-week “national town hall roadshow”, holding close to 70 meetings around the country.

As the first person chosen to lead his party in opposition after a long period in government, that seems entirely reasonable.

Which suggests that the story loaded with clickbaity phrases like “spending up large”, “splashing cash” and “travelling the country by road and in style” is a shabby way of making a sow’s ear out of the public purse.

Dotcom case continued, and to continue

In a Hong Kong court hearing, in which Kim Dotcom is trying to free up more of his money for substantial living expenses, it was indicated that the extradition proceedings are likely to last at least another two years.

Newstalk ZB: Dotcom case to stretch to next decade

At least two more years.

That’s the minimum time frame for the Kim Dotcom extradition case, a Hong Kong court has been told.

The statement came during a hearing which saw details released of Dotcom’s extravagant lifestyle, funded out of a Hong Kong trove of cash.

It means Dotcom is likely to be in New Zealand next decade and the process to extradite him to the United States will have dragged on for eight years.

The Hong Kong hearing saw Dotcom pitching for $1 million relocation costs to fund his move from Auckland to Queenstown.

The money was to pay two years rent in advance, at $40,000-a-month. That’s an increase on the current $27,000-a-month allowed to be withdrawn from a seized pool of $50m held in Hong Kong.

Dotcom was also after $150,000 to pay for moving expenses and to have living expenses increased from $70,000-a-month to $73,000-a-month.

There was a further bid for a $200,000 “emergency fund” – that was to pay for “medical expenses of the family, car maintenance, household repairs and two holidays of the family”.

I guess if he’s got a heap of money he wants to be able to use it, but that’s a lot for living expenses.

It was during submissions by Gerard McCoy, Dotcom’s lawyer in Hong Kong, that the length of the extradition process was raised as a reason for needing the funds.

“These proceedings could not be determined in the next two years,” he said.

What’s next?

Dotcom is now on to the third Minister of Justice since he was arrested – the person in government who faces making the decision on whether the extradition certificate should be granted.

The next step in the process for New Zealand is a hearing in the Court of Appeal in February. Whatever the outcome, either side is expected to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Once that is complete, and should the extradition finding be upheld, it is down to the Minister of Justice to issue an order for extradition.

Even that is expected to face a challenge, with the High Court likely to be asked to rule on whether it was appropriately made.

The ongoing proceedings are taking a long time, and most be costing all those involved a heap.

Andrew Little is the new Minister of Justice who may or may not get to deal with this in the term just started.

From NZ Herald in 2014:  Dotcom show wears thin for Kiwis

Labour justice spokesman Andrew Little said at issue was whether the allegations against Mr Dotcom were “genuinely criminal conduct, or is it a civil matter” that ought to be left to the US and Kim Dotcom.

Barclay absent on full pay

Stuff tries to keep the Barclay story going:  He’s making $3000 a week but no-one knows if Todd Barclay will ever return to Parliament

It remains unclear whether embattled Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay will return to Parliament before retiring at the election in September.

Barclay has been absent from the House and select committees since he announced he would stand down in June over further revelations about his alleged illegal taping of a staff-member.

Parliament is currently in recess but will sit for a further four weeks prior to the election. Barclay is the deputy chair of both the Education and Science and Primary Production select committees.

Senior whip Jami-Lee Ross and Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie are travelling to Queenstown on Tuesday to meet with Barclay.

Ross said he would likely be talking to Barclay about whether he was coming back to Parliament or not.

“I don’t know if he’s made a decision yet. I’m sure that will come up in the conversation – we’ll discuss if and when he does come back to Parliament.”

 

The young MP, who usually has a busy schedule, hasn’t been spotted at a single public event – even when other National MPs have visited the electorate.

It is understood he was even absent from a National Party fundraiser in Queenstown on Friday, which deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett attended.

Barclay was active on Twitter up until June 19.

Since then, nothing.

Not many jobs allow you to keep getting paid while not working. In this case Barclay is very generously paid.

At least he doesn’t seem to be clocking up travel expenses.

This doesn’t look good, he should either be working as an MP or he should resign.

But comparatively, how bad is this?

How much value do taxpayers get out of back bench Government MPs? Especially list MPs?

How much value do we get out of opposition MPs?

John Key and David Cunliffe resigned as soon as they could while avoiding triggering a by-election. They aren’t being paid, but they have left their electorates unrepresented.

How many MPs are spending a lot if not most of their time campaigning? Working for their re-election and not working for the country?

Winston Peters spends a lot of time and money on a leader’s salary campaigning all over the country.

The Green co-leaders and most if not all Green MPs went to Nelson on Sunday to launch their election campaign. Perhaps they all paid for their own travel (presumably not by bicycle) and accommodation.

Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern have been campaigning for months. Who is paying for that?

Who paid for Matt McCarten’s salary while he set up a ‘non-partisan’ campaign using foreign students? And the other Labour staffers’ salaries? Has Stuff investigated that yet?

Barclay’s situation seems farcical, but his skiving off on full salary is not a lot more wasteful than a lot of Parliamentary expenses.

Harawira – we pay $495 per day expenses

Hone Harawira is ranking nearly twice as much as David Shearer – in spending on expenses. Reported by NZ Herald – Harawira still top spender

Te Tai Tokerau’s representative spent more than any other non-ministerial MP for the second quarter running, according to expense details published by Internal Affairs.

Mr Harawira racked up $45,124 in accommodation and travel bills in the past three months, including $23,881 on flights – nearly twice as much as the Leader of the Opposition, David Shearer.

Remarkable. This is:

  • $45,124 for three months
  • $15,000 per month
  • $3,470 per week
  • $495 per day

And this isn’t due to his workload in Parliament.

He has made only intermittent appearances in the House, asking just two primary questions at Question Time this year, and making seven speeches in seven months.

This is up nearly 50% from the previous quarter, when he spent $31,800. This may reflect how much time (and money) Harawira spent campaigning in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election.

A difference of $13,800 – is that around what the taxpayers spent on Harawira campaigning for for the Mana Party?

Harawira stands to be seen here as a troughing hypocrite, as one of the main things he has been campaigning on is giving money to hungry kids as poor families.