Turei won’t stand down

Green MP admits electoral roll discrepancy

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Metiria Turei

Wellington
Metiria Turei will not be resigning as co-leader of the Green Party.
Instead she says she would not be seeking a ministerial position in any Labour-Green government.
She was accompanied by co-leader James Shaw for the announcement today, which came after admitting she committed benefit fraud and later that she registered a false address on the electoral roll in order to vote for a friend in 1993.
Ms Turei said she considered resigning but said her work was critical.
“I would very much liked to have been a minister in the new government,” she said.
But ending poverty had been her top goal in Parliament, she said.
Ms Turei had e-mails and calls in the last 24 hours from people asking her to stay on, she said.
She acknowledged it put Labour in a difficult position and the Labour Party had expressed concerns with her.
Mr Shaw said he never asked for Ms Turei’s resignation and supported her as co- leader.
He did not perceive any more difficulty in the relationship with Labour now than several weeks ago.
He said he has close personal relationships with Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and finance spokesman Grant Robertson
Ms Turei admitted she was enrolled at an address different from where she was living in 1993 so she could vote for a friend in the general election.
The Greens co-leader said she was not living with the father of her daughter, when illegally collecting a benefit.
“I was, however, enrolled to vote at the same address as him, which was in the Mount Albert electorate,” she said in a statement last night.
“A friend of mine was running as a candidate in Mount Albert in 1993 and I wished to vote for them. That was a mistake one of many I, like many other people, made as a young person.”
Ms Turei said she was the sole provider for her daughter and fully financially responsible for them both.
Her admission came after Newshub reported the habitation index listed her at the same address as Paul Hartley in 1993 and 1994.
The index also listed her at the same address as her mother in 1996 and 1998.
“I also wish to confirm that my mother was my flatmate for a period during the mid-1990s,” she said.
“We were financially independent while living together in the same home.”
Earlier in the day, Ms Turei had her first meeting with fraud investigators from the Ministry of Social Development.
It came nearly a month after she revealed she lied to Work and Income in the early 1990s to avoid having her benefit being cut while a solo mum completing a law degree.
“We have had a national conversation about what welfare is like, how hard it is, how impossible it is for people to live well and that we need a more compassionate and caring welfare system, not one that penalises people,” she said.
“I don’t regret a minute.”
The meeting was a first step in the investigation that will now require Ms Turei to answer a string of questions from MSD about her situation at the time she was receiving a benefit.
They are expected to centre around the number of housemates Ms Turei had at a time she told welfare services she lived alone.
Winz will also determine how much Ms Turei will be forced to pay back, a commitment she made early on.
“I think there’s a preference for it to be resolved as soon as possible,” Ms Turei said, although she told reporters investigators had been unable to tell her whether the investigation would be finalised before next month’s election. NZN

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