by Lindsay Shelton
Parliament’s Speaker announced yesterday that there’s to be a new building behind Parliament House to provide offices for MPs and their staff. But then he released images showing that not just one but two new buildings are to be constructed.
The big new building for MPs is to go up on a car park. It’ll replace offices that are leased across the road in Bowen House. The lease costs about $6m a year. The Prime Minister added information at his press conference. He said the money is paid to “foreign owners.”
But what of the second new building, which barely gets a mention but which can be clearly seen in each of the concept drawings?
It seems it wasn’t counted because it’s to replace a yellow-stickered older structure that’s going to be demolished – members of the Press Gallery were evacuated after last week’s quake. The official announcement is strangely vague, with only two brief sentences about the second building which it refers to as being “remodelled.” But the concept drawings show a new three-storey structure. And it seems that it’ll house offices for Cabinet Ministers, as well as journalists.
So there are to be two new buildings, rather than one as the Speaker has announced. And all MPs are supporting them, except for NZ First. Deputy leader Ron Mark released some blistering criticism, saying that because the Government had sold Bowen House in 1991 its “privatisation” has been costing taxpayers a “huge amount of money” each year. He went further:
“When we have well over 40,000 New Zealanders homeless and young Kiwis struggling to buy a new home, this is not the time for wasteful expenditure pandering to the comfort of MPs and their staff.”
And then he digressed.
“Also, we don’t need 120 parliamentarians either, 100 would be sufficient, which would make the task of finding suitable accommodation much easier.
Is this a new policy from NZ First – get rid of twenty MPs as a way of saving $100million? And spend the $100million on social housing? Could be popular.