3 Aug 2009

Ministerial housing rules to be reviewed

8:05 pm on 3 August 2009

Prime Minister John Key has announced a review of the rules for ministers claiming accommodation expenses in Wellington and has signalled some could get a lower allowance in future.

Mr Key has asked Ministerial Services to review the current rules for ministers.

It follows the release last week of expenses information, including accommodation and travel, claimed by MPs and ministers.

The data revealed that Finance Minister Bill English receives a $700 a week housing allowance for a Wellington property his family has owned for several years.

Mr Key says he believes a better system can be developed which will result in better value for taxpayers' money.

"We can go out there and persecute Cabinet ministers, but I'm sorry - they're actually doing a very important function.

"You expect them to do that at a good level, and I expect them to be able to keep their marriages and their families intact. I don't expect them to take advantage of the goodwill of the New Zealand taxpayer and I don't believe they are."

Mr English receives the allowance for a house owned by his family trust, but Mr Key says the minister is entitled to it.

Mr Key says there might be an issue around how the allowance is portrayed and that changes could be considered.

However, Mr Key says he has already put a cap of $700 per week on how much ministers can claim under the accommodation allowance.

Mr English is adamant he is not getting any special favours.