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Wellington Or Dipton? Labour Again Asks Where English Lives

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Bill English
Bill English

Wellington, Sept 17 NZPA - Opposition MPs tried to keep up the pressure on Finance Minister Bill English today by again raising the question of whether he lives in Wellington or Dipton.

Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton has written to Auditor-General Lyn Provost asking for an inquiry into whether Mr English meets the criteria for being an out of town MP.

Mr English considers the Southland town of Dipton, in his electorate, to be his primary residence under Parliament's rules.

That means he gets an out of town allowance to live in Wellington.

Labour has previously questioned whether Dipton really is Mr English's primary residence, and the controversy was played out last month.

At the time, Mr English said Dipton was his home, he had raised his children there and went there as often as he could.

"I am on parliamentary business generally seven days a week ... I represent an electorate that is 600 miles away and Parliament, since it began, has had a system which supports representation from out of Wellington."

Mr Anderton confirmed today he had written to the Auditor-General asking for an inquiry.

"I want an inquiry into whether Mr English's circumstances fit the criteria," he said on One News.

"On the face of it, you can't claim a Wellington allowance if you live there."

Labour MP Trevor Mallard said Mr English had lived in Wellington since 1995 or 1996.

"I think his primary place of residence is Wellington," Mr Mallard said.

"I've always thought that, I don't think he's been eligible for an out of town allowance from that time."

It was not known tonight whether the Auditor-General would decide to hold an inquiry.

Parliament's Speaker has responsibility for deciding where the primary residences of MPs are.

Mr English has been embroiled in a row over housing allowances for the last two months and Labour wants to keep it going.

He was receiving about $700 a week but said it was "a bad look" and opted to go back to the $24,000 a year he received as an opposition MP.

"I get the same allowance as 100 other MPs," he said today.

"I think that's fair."

Mr English and his family live in a $1.2 million house in Wellington which is owned by a family trust.

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