2010 was a tough year for a lot of Kiwi families. As ordinary workers faced continued increases in the cost of day-to-day living through higher power prices, higher food costs, higher ACC levies and higher GST increasing the cost of just about everything, they found that their pay packets weren’t keeping up thanks to National’s “wage freeze” policies.
At least one group, however, has been been immune from National’s wage freeze, and that’s National ministers themselves. Late in 2009 John Key announced a new ministerial housing allowance. After Bill English was found out rorting the old scheme, Key decided it was easier to blame the ‘complex’ rules rather than discipline English. As a result, Ministers have pocketed an effective pay increase.
At the end of 2009 I showed how Ministers could rort the new scheme to give themselves a new tax-free pay increase. Now we know that, contrary to Key’s claim the new scheme would be cheaper, the cost of housing Ministers in Wellington increased by 8 percent, and it’s likely to rise further as more Ministers switch houses.
The number of Ministers claiming over $10,000 per quarter has increased from 5 to 11 since Key’s new scheme was introduced. The worst part is they don’t even need to prove that they’re spending the money on accommodation. They can rent out a cheaper place and pocket the difference. It’s another rort, and this time it’s got Key’s signature on it.