Monday, 11 November 2013

Abbott to adjust rules governing parliamentarians' entitlements, but known rorters remain untouched

Prime Minister Tony Abbott's minimalist approach to the cancer in parliamentarian ranks.

Media Release

9 November 2011

Strengthening the Rules Governing Parliamentarians' Business Expenses

The system of funding the work costs of parliamentarians in carrying out their responsibilities must work in a way that ensures senators and members are accessible to their electors while ensuring taxpayers' money is well spent and maintaining public confidence in the system.
For this reason, the Government will act to strengthen a range of measures governing the funding of parliamentarians' work costs.
The Government will proceed with the following sensible reforms to improve the system's integrity:
  • Strengthen the declaration a parliamentarian is required to make when submitting a travel claim. The new declaration will read: "I declare that this travel was undertaken in my capacity as an elected representative and I acknowledge that a financial loading will be applied if subsequent adjustment to this travel claim is required."
  • Require that if parliamentarians make an adjustment to any claims made after 1 January 2014 they will be required to pay a loading of 25 per cent in addition to the full amount of the adjustment. This will not apply where the adjustment is the result of an error made by the Department of Finance.
  • From 1 January 2014, mandatory training will be provided for parliamentarians and their offices if more than one incorrect claim is lodged within a financial year.
  • The Special Minister of State may table in parliament the name of any parliamentarian who fails to substantially comply within a reasonable time with a request for further information as part of a departmental enquiry.
  • Ask the Remuneration Tribunal to review the entitlement to a one night stopover which is currently available to some Queensland, Western Australian and Northern Territory parliamentarians. A stopover should only be required when it can be established that no connecting flight is available.
  • Ask the Remuneration Tribunal to review the determination that a family member or designated person has only to spend three hours at the same location as the senator or member to qualify for the existing Family Reunion Travel Entitlement.
  • The Government will move to limit the 'additional travel for children' entitlement for senior officers to children under the age of 18 from where it currently stands at 25 years of age.
  • Review the entitlement for a spouse or partner to travel overseas on parliamentary delegations.
  • Remove the seldom used entitlement to travel allowance for travel connected with the office of second deputy speaker.
  • Prevent employment of a spouse, partner, parent or child of a senator or member, a child of the spouse or partner of a senator or member, or a son or daughter-in-law of a senator or member within that MP's own office.
The Government believes that these reforms will improve accountability and strengthen the existing system.
As part of this process, the Government has considered the recommendations of the 2009 Belcher Review that were not adopted by the former Government.

Media Contact:
Brad Rowswell
(02) 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796

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