AM hosts clash over whether MPs should claim housing perk to rent back their own homes

  • 11/06/2024

AM hosts have clashed over a perk that allows MPs living outside Wellington to pay off their mortgages with taxpayer money. 

The perk allows MPs to claim a housing allowance to live in Wellington, however, many MPs use it to pay rent on a property they own - effectively paying off their mortgage. 

Ōtaki MP Tim Costley and Labour MP Kieran McAnulty have recently made headlines for receiving housing allowances. 

Costley lives in Waikanae, 60km north of Wellington, and receives the payment to live in a Wellington apartment he owns. 

McAnulty owns a home in Masterton and, during Parliament sitting weeks, he stays at a flat in Lower Hutt owned by his wife - and receives the payment. 

MPs are entitled to claim up to $46,400 a year if their main residence is outside of the Wellington commuting area. However, the rules don't specify a minimum distance.   

Last year, The Post revealed at least 20 MPs are claiming the perk to help pay off mortgages on their Wellington property.   

Discussing the accommodation perk on Tuesday, AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green and newsreader Amanda Gillies both noted the MPs aren't breaking any rules by receiving the supplement. 

"If that is perks and those are the rules, I think if we were doing it and you could get away with it, you do - that's human nature…" Gillies said. "You get a lot of crap with those sorts of jobs and if there's some sort of perk that's going to make life easier and it's legit, you're not breaking any rules, then why not?" 

"I want people from all over the country to be able to participate in democracy in Wellington and that may mean claiming an accommodation supplement," Chan-Green said. 

However, Chan-Green said MPs who live less than an hour away shouldn't be entitled to the payment. 

"You've got to drive just like the rest of us or take public transport," Chan-Green said. "But if it's over that, I think there's got to be some perks to being in Parliament. 

"I would say so many people waking up this morning are about to get in their cars and do at least 45 minutes in traffic," she added. 

Co-host Lloyd Burr said Costley's home in Waikanae would be a 45-minute drive without traffic, noting the times he would need to commute to Parliament aren't during peak hour times. 

"Some of these are... useless MPs who've been backbenchers the whole time and they're just like, 'Great I've got a house,' you're selling it, it's doubled its value and taxpayers have paid it off. 

"There's something that just sits a bit uneasy with me." 

Watch the full video for more.