Comment by Mike Hosking
Metiria Turei has written another chapter in her increasingly depressing curriculum vitae.
Having confessed to lying and cheating a government department, she's now decided to play co-conspirator to those who have come forward and told her they're ripping off the system just like she did.
It would be easy to ignore this sort of behaviour if it wasn't for the fact this woman wants to run the country. She's not some attention seeking activist, she's potentially a senior cabinet minister.
You can say all you want about politics and its ability to sink to various lows. But in general, those who participate in the practice have a broad code of conduct - and deception, dishonesty, fraud and general illegality aren't part of it.
Being angry or frustrated about a system or finding things hard under a series of rules or regulations have never been, and please let them never become, acceptable reasons to become a crook. There is no doubt in my mind the original confession was designed for nothing more than political reasons, making her not only dishonest but an opportunist as well.
To expand that dishonesty to protecting other liars and cheats is an affront to (a) everyone who works and pays taxes and abides by the laws of the land and (b) more importantly every beneficiary who is in exactly the same position as Turei and her fellow thieves, but through hard work, diligence, and decency doesn't scam the system.
Having set a precedent, which this is, where does it stop?
For those who feel they pay too much tax, can they just keep a bit aside? Any interaction with a government department - whether it be the tax office, social welfare, the health system, or ACC - can we now set the rules we feel are appropriate? For all those who work hard and struggle to make ends meet, can we skip whatever payment we may need to make to the government because it's all a bit hard?
I am surprised the Greens have let this unfold the way it has.
Even if you had sympathy for the original confession - hard times many years ago, eventually put right, amends made - even if you could get past that, this latest chapter brings a whole new level or deceit to bear.
In other areas of life, knowledge of a crime is in fact a crime itself. For a party looking for increased credibility, looking to put the mad old days of Sue Bradford and Jeanette Fitzsimons and their social engineering craziness behind them, how can any of this possibly help?