Comment by Audrey Young

Metiria Turei is finally doing what she should have done two weeks ago before making her leader's speech to the Green Party conference.

She is meeting the investigations unit of Work and Income to talk about repaying an old debt.

But that may not be closure for Turei.

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The Ministry of Social Development is obliged to be as robust with Turei as it would be with someone in the same circumstances today, and as it would be with someone who is not a politician.

The unit may well want her to provide the detail that she has declined to share publicly since her admission that she supplemented her DPB with rent from flatmates.

MSD investigators would not be doing their job if they did not ask whether one of the flatmates was a boyfriend living in a de facto relationship and whether they could talk to some of the flatmates.

That would elevate the issue from an overpayment to a more serious breach of the law. It is a simple question Turei has repeatedly failed to answer because she believes that the state is intruding on private lives.

On the other hand, she might discover that any offending is considered at the lowest level or that there was no offending at all because she was within the flatmate allowance.

But the actual offending and any debt has been of less concern to many of Turei's critics than her attitude which has remained one of unswerving entitlement to break the law.

This is where Turei has got herself and her party into a quagmire from which it will be difficult to extricate itself.

Her sense of entitlement to break the law has invited a host of examples moral equivalents - hypothetical offending by other types of people, including say farmers, and other types of offending, including say tax fraud, in order to justify getting more money to feed the kids.

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In the meantime, the focus is finally starting to turn away from Turei and towards the Greens' new social welfare policy which is to remove sanctions and obligations from welfare recipients.

That includes women receiving sole parent support (the old Dpb) living with their boyfriends.

Under the Green Party policy, a man and woman can be living in a de facto relationship for three years with one of them working and earning and the other getting a benefit without losing the benefit.

There are not too many people who would see that as the fair application of a safety net.

Turei's actions were designed to turn a spotlight on the failures of the system. They have instead turned the spotlight on her own failures as a politician.