Winston Peters has admitted to a mistake he said was fixed:
Some media contacts have called to alert me about a possible story about superannuation.
“From what I can glean it is about the following:
• In early 2010 I applied for superannuation, in the company of my partner, and in the presence of a senior official at the Ministry of Social Development.
“In July of this year, I was astonished to receive a letter from the Ministry to advise there was an error in my superannuation allowance and a request that I meet with them.
“I immediately contacted and met the area manager of MSD.
“It was unclear on both sides how the error had occurred leading to a small fortnightly overpayment.
“Suffice to say, we agreed there had been an error.
• Within 24 hours the error and overpayment had been corrected by me.
• I subsequently received a letter from the area manager thanking me for my prompt attention and confirming that the matter was concluded to the Ministry’s satisfaction.
“I am grateful to the Ministry for their courtesy and the professional and understanding way they handled this error.
“Like the Ministry I believed the matter had been put to rest.”
Newshub reports that in typical Peters fashion he refused to answer questions on the issue when it was first raised with him.
A transcript of the conversation is here.
The Social Development Ministry says it cannot comment until it gets a privacy waiver from Mr Peters.
If his past behaviour is any guide he probably won’t give it.
But on the face of it, this appears to be a mistake although it’s not clear whether it was the Ministry’s mistake of Peters’.
If it was his, it’s not a good look for a man who wants to be a Minister. If it was the Ministry’s they need to improve their systems.
Whoever made it, no-one is saying it was deliberate and Peters has paid back whatever he was overpaid.
The Taxpayers’ Union has congratulated him for doing that but adds:
But while we’re on the subject of repaying public funds – that $158,000 of taxpayers’ money NZ First illegally spent in the 2005 election, can we have that paid back too?”
He has in the past said he paid the money to charity. Whether he did or not, and there are doubts over that, the money wasn’t owed to any charity, it was owed to the public purse from which it was wrongly taken.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters took higher superannuation payments than he was entitled to for seven years – while living with his de facto partner – and has been required to pay back $18,000 to the state.
Peters filled out forms when he turned 65 that qualified him for the single person’s superannuation rate, which is about $60 a week higher in this case than a person would receive if declared to be living with a partner, which he was. . .
Do you live alone?
I live with my partner Go to question 32
I live with other people Go to question 28
Questions 32 – 36 ask:
What is your partner’s full name?
What is your partner’s date of birth?
Day Month Year
Is your partner:
What is your relationship status with your partner?
Tick one of the following boxes
Married In a civil union In a relationship
Are you living at the same address as your partner?
No Yes Go to question 38
Where does your partner live?
At the very best getting the answers to those questions wrong was very, very careless.