Chris Hipkins open to looking at MP accommodation allowance

The Opposition leader says he’s open to changing how MPs claim allowances for their Wellington accommodation, but he doesn’t think it will save much money.

Questions have been raised around some MPs who claim an allowance to live in Wellington properties they, or their family members, own.

Labour leader Chris Hipkins told Morning Report changes were made under John Key’s government.

“There were tighter restrictions on that, so you could claim expenses for your Wellington accommodation if you owned your own place, and that would include interest on your mortgage, but you couldn’t pay principal for example on your mortgage repayments for owning your own place in Wellington.”

Hipkins said he was open to looking at things again.

But he didn’t think much taxpayer money would be saved.

“Ultimately a change to the rules probably isn’t going to save much in terms of public money, because MPs renting from themselves, or renting from someone else are still likely to end up with broadly the same level of expenses. I think the real question is whether MPs should have any pecuniary interest in the places that they’re renting.”

But there was a moral judgement involved when MPs spent any public money, Hipkins said.

The change meant it was essentially a cash amount being paid out each week or fortnight, rather than claims for specific expenses, he said.

“I hope everybody will agree that MPs should be able to be supported to be in Wellington and to stay in Wellington and still be able to go home at the end of the week.

“Whether there should be more restrictions on what they can claim when they’re in Wellington, I’m very open to that discussion.”

Hipkins lives in the Hutt Valley so does not claim the allowance.

He said he was comfortable with those Labour MPs who were claiming the allowance.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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