29 Aug 2017

Timeline: Winston Peters' superannuation overpayments saga

6:42 pm on 29 August 2017

The leak of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters' superannuation overpayment is this week's campaign trail zinger.

Two ministers and the chief of staff in the prime minister's office were told about the overpayment, which Mr Peters repaid, and now the Ministry of Social Development and Inland Revenue are investigating whether the overpayment emerged due to an internal leak.

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Photo: RNZ

Here's a timeline of the saga:

  • Early 2010: Winston Peters applies for superannuation. He says that was done in the company of his partner and in the presence of a senior Ministry of Social Development (MSD) official. He was not an MP at the time.
  • 19 June 2017: Ministry of Social Development chief executive Brendan Boyle is told of Mr Peters' case during a routine briefing on operational matters.
  • 27 July: The MSD chief executive is told the matter has been resolved to officials' satisfaction. He then discussed with the State Services Commission if the matter should be disclosed to the minister.
  • July: MSD sends Mr Peters a letter notifying him of the incorrect superannuation payments. Mr Peters said he met with an the MSD area manager and the error and overpayment were corrected within 24 hours.
  • 31 July: Social Development Minister Anne Tolley is verbally informed by MSD's chief executive about the matter under the no surprises policy.
  • 1 August: State Services Minister Paula Bennett is briefed by State Services Commission.
  • 15 August: Mrs Tolley is briefed again by MSD that it is satisfied with the outcome of its meeting with Mr Peters.
  • 27 August: Mr Peters puts out media release saying that there had been a mistake with his superannuation payments and that the issue had been corrected and resolved.
  • 28 August: MSD and Inland Revenue confirm they are investigating whether their departments were involved in the leaking of information to the media.
  • 29 August: Mrs Tolley and Mrs Bennett confirm they were briefed and the Prime Minister's office says chief of of staff Wayne Eagleson was informed. State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes said ministers were briefed about the issue only after all decisions had been made. Prime Minister Bill English says neither the Beehive nor the National Party had leaked information but it would have been better on this occasion if ministers were not told.