Jacinda Ardern defends rent deal which sees Labour pocket thousands of taxpayer dollars a year

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is defending a rent deal which has seen the Labour Party pocketing thousands of taxpayer dollars a year for decades. 

The Labour Party is charging the public more in rent than it actually pays for its Hutt South electorate office, and the Prime Minister says this may not be the only deal like it. 

"That electorate office is costing the taxpayer I believe $6000 a year. That is certainly at the cheaper end of the scale," Labour leader Ardern said on Friday. 

That sounds like a sweet deal. But the Labour Party is getting an even sweeter one.

Here's how it works

The building Petone is owned by the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union, which only charges the Labour Party $1500 a year to rent it. 

Labour then charges Labour MP Ginny Andersen $6000 a year in rent, which is paid for by Parliament with taxpayer money. 

The difference - a $4500 profit - goes into the Labour Party's back pocket. 

And it's all within the rules. 

"We are sticking to the rules set by Parliamentary Service," Ardern said. 

Lower Hutt locals had varying views on the fairness when approached by Newshub. 

"It's not illegal, it's not a problem," one man said. 

Another local wasn't so keen on the idea.

"Quite pissed off, to be honest, yeah," he said. "Like, it's quite frustrating because I vote for Labour."

It didn't seem to bother a local woman who said she's a "great supporter of Ginny Andersen at any rate" and will "continue to be". 

National's Hutt South MP Chris Bishop has weighed in on the issue. 

"Taxpayer funding for parliamentary offices is totally legitimate but it's meant to be for rent - it's not meant to be for rent plus a bit on the side for the Labour party to go into their campaign funds," he told Newshub. 

Andersen wouldn't be interviewed but said in a statement, "It's a long-standing arrangement going back decades that Parliamentary Service are aware of and saves taxpayers."

It's not just Hutt South voters that should be concerned, with Ardern saying on Friday there "will certainly" be other cases. 

National Party leader Judith Collins isn't aware of it happening in her party. 

"I'm not aware of any arrangement like that."

The Electoral Commission has received a complaint about Andersen's rent arrangement and told Newshub it is looking into it. 

Don't expect other parties to pile in too much with the criticism, because as the Prime Minister said, this sort of deal is possibly widespread. 

And politicians tend to protect their perks the public keeps paying for it.