Labour MP Ginny Andersen has terminated a controversial and long-running subletting deal which saw Labour’s Hutt South wing pocketing thousands of dollars of taxpayer’s money each year.
By Benedict Collins & Abbey Wakefield
Andersen told 1 NEWS she became uncomfortable with the arrangement and decided taxpayers deserved better.
The Parliamentary Service (pays) uses taxpayer money to cover the rent for MPs’ electorate offices.
It had been handing over $6000 for the annual rent of Andersen’s Hutt South electorate base in Petone.
She was subletting it from the Labour Party. But the party was being charged just $1500 by the building’s owner, the NZ professional Firefighters’ Union.
Today when approached by 1 NEWS Ginny Andersen said, “that’s not the arrangement any longer.”
Andersen said she had cut the Labour Party out of the deal.
“I was unaware of the arrangement and I felt that it wasn’t transparent enough so now I’ve taken action to make sure it is transparent,” she said.
“After the intense scrutiny raised by Chris Bishop just before the last election, I looked at it, understood what was going on, and decided that it would be much more transparent to see that it was going straight from Parliamentary services to the existing landlord,” she said.
Andersen said the arrangement was set up about 25 years ago.
It’s not known how much money the Labour Party has made in that time, but the Parliamentary Service is comfortable with the arrangement saying it is paying less than the market rate.
National List MP Chris Bishop says the deal was a scam and is glad the arrangement has come to an end.
“Taxpayers should be outraged that the local Labour Party is profiting from four and a half grand a year from taxpayers in a dodgy funding arrangement,” Bishop said.
“This also goes back many many years, it’s not just about Ginny Andersen and the Labour Party here today, Trevor Mallard was the former MP for Hutt South and the arrangement goes back some years so it also implicates the Speaker of the House and representatives,” he said.
“It’s actually the principle of the thing, taxpayers should not be party to an arrangement that basically lets the Labour Party benefit out of taxpayer money,” he said.
As Bishop posed for a photo outside of Labour’s Petone office, Andersen came out to confront him.
“Can I get a photo too?” Andersen said.
When Bishop noticed Andersen was standing behind him, he started to flee the scene.
“Oh, come on Chris,” Andersen said.
“I don’t need to be in a photo with you,” Bishop said as he was walking away.
“I think there’s an element of sour grapes there,” Andersen said after Bishop had left.
She also claimed other MPs throughout the country had questionable arrangements with the electorate offices and some were far more profitable.