National urges investigation over foreign cost-of-living payments

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Aug 02, 2022 |


The National Party is asking the Auditor-General to investigate the government’s cost-of-living payment after it was sent to numerous people who were ineligible.

The first of three $116 installments was paid yesterday to New Zealand tax residents who earn up to $70,000 and not receiving a main benefit.

However, some former residents living overseas have also received the payout – and the government has admitted it does not know how many.

National’s Finance Spokeswoman Nicola Willis said “alarmingly, ministers have been unable to quantify the scale of payments made to ineligible people, with Minister Parker saying they ‘don’t know what they don’t know’. 

National’s Finance Spokeswoman Nicola Willis

We do know that some recipients have been out of the country for many years, which suggests potentially hundreds of thousands of ex-pat New Zealanders and former visa-holders could be caught in the mis-payment net.”

Willis said “this also raises legal questions. The general policy statement for the cost of living legislation defines the eligibility criteria for the payment and says people will only be eligible for it if they are living here and present here for tax purposes.

The legislation is also explicit that if payments are made to people who are ineligible, they will be required by law to repay it.

This puts New Zealanders overseas in an invidious position. They didn’t ask for this money to go into their account and now they’re in a situation where according to the law, they’re required to pay it back. Many of them may not even know that payment has been made.”

Willis said “Revenue Minister David Parker has said he doesn’t know what the scale of the problem is and will not try to find out. That shows a total lack of respect for taxpayers who earned this money. 

We will be writing to the Auditor-General today to ask for an investigation to determine the scale of these mis-payments and to determine whether taxpayer funds have been used without the proper authority of Parliament.

The scale of these issues could be massive. We know that there are a million New Zealanders living overseas. We have had a report of someone who has lived in Dubai for 22 years has got it, and of people who have been living in Australia for many years receiving it.”

The worst part of this is that it was entirely foreseeable. The Government was warned there would be a host of problems with the payment, and they went ahead with it anyway” Willis said.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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