Both Green Party leaders say they would not dob in benefit cheats but that is wrong according to Prime Minister Bill English and Labour leader Andrew Little who are in agreement on the issue.
Greens’ co-leader Metiria Turei will meet with fraud investigators from the Ministry of Social Development next week after admitting lying to Work and Income to receive a larger benefit than she was entitled to as a young solo mum in the 1990s.
Since her confession last week Ms Turei says she has been contacted by welfare recipients currently lying to Winz but she will not dob them in.
That is a position shared by her
co-leader James Shaw.
But despite opposing views on most issues, Mr English and Mr Little are united in the view that politicians can not be seen to be condoning law breaking.
“Of course people make mistakes, they inadvertently break the law, they do it under pressure,” Mr English said yesterday.
“It’s the job of the police and then the justice system to take account of those circumstances because life’s a bit messy.” He said Ms Turei was “disconnected” from normal assumptions that people should obey the law.
Mr Little said he would advise people coming to him to do the right thing and “front up” to Winz.
“No politician should condone anybody breaking the rules or breaking the law but that’s what’s happened,” he said.
Neither Mr Little or Ms Turei have sought advice on whether her confession could lead to a conviction and potentially the end of her political career.
Mr Little would not say whether his election campaign partner’s confession would rule her out of a cabinet position in a Labour-Green government.
“We haven’t had any discussions. I’m not talking about portfolio allocations before the election,” he said.
Ms Turei expects to learn more about the ramifications of her fraud when she meets with Winz investigators next week.
She is committed to complying fully with the MSD investigation.
“I will certainly repay the overpayment and I look forward to working with MSD to determine what that is,” she said.
Ms Turei was not employed while receiving welfare between 1993 and 1998, telling NZ Newswire she was turned down for jobs because she had no qualifications or work history.
“This was the early 1990s when work was very scarce,” she said.
“Jobs weren’t as easy to get as perhaps they might be now.” Instead she twice ran for Parliament and completed a law degree believing it would set her up with a career for life. NZN