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Making Allowances MPs dodge rent row

Wairarapa’s other resident MPs are declining to criticise Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty for claiming $36,400 a year housing allowance when he stays in Wellington at a house owned by his wife.

Yesterday The Post reported that McAnulty stays at a Lower Hutt flat owned by his wife, Gia Garrick, when Parliament is in session and has claimed an allowance of $12,067 since October for this.

McAnulty was unavailable to speak to the Times-Age about the issue; instead, a spokesperson provided “his initial full statement”:

“The flat was purchased by my now wife before we were married. I do not own the flat, nor am I on the mortgage. The registrar of pecuniary interests advised me I’m not required to declare the flat, but I declared it in the interests of transparency. I pay my share to stay there when Parliament sits.”

McAnulty owns a four-bedroom in Masterton valued at $655,000 that he’s noted is a 100-minute drive from Parliament.

Wairarapa electorate MP Mike Butterick – who won the seat from McAnulty with a majority of 2816 at last year’s election – wasn’t about to put the slipper in when approached for comment.

“If Kieran lives in Wairarapa, it would be within the rules for him to claim housing allowance, but that is a matter for him,” Butterick said.

“All MPs who live outside Wellington can receive this allowance. We are required to be in the House while Parliament is sitting, sometimes until late at night, and for select committee work and other parliamentary business.

“I live on a farm near Masterton, and I receive an allowance for accommodation in Wellington.”

For her part, Celia Wade-Brown – who lives outside Carterton and became a Green list MP after the resignation of Golriz Ghahraman in January – said she didn’t wish to comment on any other MP’s situation, although she did clarify her own circumstances. “The nature of Parliament sometimes sees us work up until midnight,” she said.

“The housing allowance has provided me with a rental apartment to stay that is close to Parliament, making it easier for me to perform my duties as an MP, especially when the House is sitting late at night.

“All of this has been done with the full knowledge and approval of the Parliamentary Service, who are aware of
the property I own,
including the property I

rent out in Wellington.”

The story about McAnulty’s housing allowance claim comes after criticism of Ōtaki MP Tim Costley claiming the $36,400 a year housing allowance for a Wellington apartment, despite his home being at Waikanae on the Kāpiti Coast – just 58km from Parliament.

Prime Minister Christoper Luxon has noted that Costley’s home is outside Wellington’s commuter region, and it’s therefore within Parliament’s rules for the National Party MP to claim the allowance.

Earlier this year, Luxon quickly reversed his own decision to claim the housing allowance – to which he was entitled – after it was reported he was receiving $52,000 a year for his mortgage-free apartment in Wellington under the entitlement.

In October last year, The Post reported that at least 20 out-of-town MPs were claiming the allowance to help pay off mortgages on Wellington property they own, including Labour’s , Willie Jackson, Deborah Russell, Jenny Salesa, Jan Tinetti, Duncan Webb, and Arena Williams, National’s Andrew Bayly, Gerry Brownlee, Judith Collins, Barbara Kuriger, Melissa Lee, Mark Mitchell, Stuart Smith, and ACT’s Simon Court.

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