If Metiria Turei had paid it back they would have told us

fraud metiria turei

Logically the continued silence over Metiria Turei’s alleged benefit fraud investigation can only mean one thing. She hasn’t paid the money back.

Six months after Metiria Turei revealed her historic benefit fraud, neither she nor the Ministry of Social Development are commenting on the case – including whether the former MP has repaid the debt.

MSD launched an investigation in August after Turei – then the Green Party co-leader – said that she had received benefit payments she wasn’t legally entitled to while studying law as a solo mother in the 1990s.

Turei, who said she had misled welfare staff about her living situation, made the revelation while she and current sole party leader James Shaw were announcing Green Party policies of increasing benefits and abolishing penalties for beneficiaries.

Six months on and neither Turei – who later stood down as co-leader and wasn’t re-elected at the election – or MSD are commenting.

Turei – who has previously said she would pay back any money she owed – didn’t respond to messages left by the Herald on Sunday and a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Social Development said it “will not and cannot” comment on individual cases.

[…] Act leader David Seymour has queried why the inquiry is taking so long.

Seymour said “there should be an investigation which is on an equal basis to which any other beneficiary should expect” and queried why it was taking so long.

[…] “The reality is, the most incensed people were single mums on a benefit.”

She said she would pay it back so her continued silence can only mean that she hasn’t.

She pledged to pay back any money the Ministry of Social Development asked her to and to cooperate with any investigation. She first met with investigators in August but it’s unclear how much she owed and whether it’s been paid back.

[…] Former Green Party member David Clendon, who along with Kennedy Graham resigned in protest at Turei’s actions, told the Herald there was a fine balance between the public interest and Turei’s privacy.

“I would expect there would be some sort of information that would come into the public domain if for no other reason than to retain the integrity of the system. Obviously there’s a huge public interest.”

[…] National’s social development spokeswoman Louise Upston said the investigation wasn’t a priority for her and she hadn’t asked questions about it. “It’s not really an area of interest for me.”

In other words, the government are hoping that the media will eventually lose interest and Turei will then be able to quietly slide sideways into a well-paid job working for the Green Party if she hasn’t already.

Shaw declined to comment through a party spokesperson.

Shouldn’t justice be seen to be done?

TIMELINE

July 16, 2017: At a Green Party Mending the Safety Net policy launch which they promised would reform the welfare system Turei said she had a “responsibility to tell it how it is”, admitting she had made misleading claims about having flatmates while a beneficiary.

August 3, 2017: Turei met with Ministry of Social Development investigators but told reporters afterward she had “no regrets” about her admissions.

August 7, 2017: Senior Green Party MPs Kennedy Graham and David Clendon resign in protest at Turei’s actions but co-leader James Shaw continued to back Turei.

August 9, 2017: Turei resigns while polls showed the Greens slumping.

-NZ Herald


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