Hobbs/Bunkle Clearance – In-House Inquiry Only
Audit Office No Electoral Court - Peters
The Rt Hon Winston Peters MP, Leader of New Zealand First, today responded to the Audit Office Report clearing MPs Phillida Bunkle and Marian Hobbs of any wrongdoing regarding their parliamentary allowances by saying that they can’t have it both ways and that no amount of bureaucratic soft selling can possibly make them innocent on both counts.
“If Ms Bunkle and Ms Hobbs have acted in accordance with the Electoral Act they have still broken the rules on parliamentary allowances. And the clearance announced today depends on an interpretation of the Electoral Act which the Audit Office is not qualified to give. For Ms Bunkle and Ms Hobbs to have picked up their allowances legitimately they must have breached the Electoral Act on residency. In short, these breaches are mutually exclusive. There is simply no way out and to claim that the provisions of the parliamentary allowances and electoral law are somehow vague and, therefore, they are innocent is simply untenable.
“The Audit Office is not an Electoral Court or a judicial body when it comes to electoral matters. What we have had here is nothing more than an in-house inquiry. As someone who has been involved with four electoral petitions nothing is more clear than the fact that a breach has occurred in both cases.
“MPs have operated under these guidelines for years and whilst they may need improving and re-assessing MPs have complied with them for many years without the controversy and allegations of ripping the taxpayer off that we have seen over the last few months,” said Mr Peters.