Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Labour Party is still rorting us

Back in September, we learned that the Labour Party was rorting its Parliamentary expenses to steal from the public again, renting office space at a below-market rate from a union for $1500 a year, then subletting it to Parliamentary Services as an electorate office at a (significantly higher) below-market rate of $6000 a year, and pocketing the difference. Today, the Electoral Commission has cleared up one aspect of this, ruling that the subletting arrangement is a donation to the party which must be declared in future:

The Electoral Commission has ordered the Labour Party to declare the cheap rent it pays for its office in Petone as a donation.

The commission looked into the matter after a Stuff investigation found Labour had been paying well below market rent for the Wellington building in a deal stretching back as far as 1993.

Recently the party was paying as little as $1500 a year, well below the market rate for office space in Petone. A shop at 264 Jackson Street, just up the road from Hutt South MP Ginny Andersen’s office, is currently for lease at $18,200 a year.

Electoral Commission rules, published in the commission’s candidate’s handbook, say that goods and services received at a discounted rate are treated as donations.

But they've given up on any effort to force Labour to declare the donation for previous years, because its just "too hard" (apparently, they can't just pick an average figure and go with that). So the law once again means nothing, and political parties can break it with impunity, as usual. And meanwhile, the fundamental problem - Labour's outright theft of public money - goes unresolved. When will Parliamentary Services put a stop to it? Or are they happy for parties to steal from the public, rather than being reimbursed for their actual, reasonable, and necessary expenses?