Goff's jobless man owns other property

By David Eames

Bruce Burgess owns properties in Helensville, Papakura and Auckland City. Photo / Greg Bowker
Bruce Burgess owns properties in Helensville, Papakura and Auckland City. Photo / Greg Bowker

An unemployed man put forward by the Labour Party as one who would benefit from its policy to pay the dole to people whose partners are still earning owns two properties worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in addition to his lifestyle block.

The Herald yesterday reported that Bruce Burgess, 60, could lose his 2.5ha property near Helensville because his wife's small income prevented him claiming a benefit.

Labour had told the Herald about his plight, but did not mention that he and his wife own a house in Papakura and an apartment in Auckland City.

The Herald has learned Mr Burgess disclosed the information when Labour first contacted him this week.

In a statement last night, party leader Phil Goff confirmed he was aware of the additional properties, but did not believe they affected the case.

"Mr Burgess's situation would not be different to that of other middle-income earners who had bought property in the hope it would eventually create a nestegg and then have suddenly been made redundant.

"Many people currently receiving the unemployment benefit will own property."

Mr Burgess said yesterday he had not told the Herald about the properties because they were not returning any money: "I didn't see them as part of the issue because they were not helping me."

He had paid about $385,000 for the Papakura property, although it was now worth about $340,000.

The property had gone on the market, but was later withdrawn as "we could not even get a bad offer on it".

Mr Burgess said he and his wife bought the apartment for "260-something", but he did not know its current market value.

In his statement, Mr Goff said the Burgess properties were not economic.

"Mr Burgess volunteered the fact he had reasonably recently purchased rental property, but said the rent was only paying off the interest, indicating this provided no significant capital asset. He said the rent was not covering costs."

Mr Burgess's lifestyle block is in the Prime Minister's Helensville electorate, and yesterday John Key warned Mr Goff not to play politics with one of his constituents - unless he knew all the facts.

Mr Key's staff have been in touch with Mr Burgess, and the Prime Minister urged him to work with Work and Income.

But Mr Burgess told the Herald he had met a Work and Income staff member early yesterday and been told he was ineligible for a benefit.

- NZ Herald

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