Sunday, 23 March 2014

Another Liberal MP runs afoul of media scrutiny of parliamentary entitlements

The Telegraph 11 March 2014:

POLITICIANS have been given the green light to hide the identities of family members who spend millions of taxpayer dollars annually flying around Australia in business class.
In a case that may set a precedent, the Abbott government has hidden records of taxpayer-funded family travel for a Liberal MP Jane Prentice after her family members racked up $20,000 worth of airfares, including business class, between Brisbane and Canberra in her first term in parliament.
The ruling is a different to the disclosure regime for the government's VIP jet flights, in which family members on the publicly-funded flights are identified and reported.
It also comes after Mrs Prentice's spouse, ex-Queensland Liberal MP Ian Prentice, attempted to distance his financial woes from her 2010 election campaign, saying at the time that voters were not electing him.
In 2006, Mr Prentice was forced into bankruptcy over a $1.062 million bill alleged by the Australian Tax Office, later saying he disputed it but could only pay less than $100,000 because of his meagre assets. The couple's Brisbane home was in Mrs Prentice's name only.
Family members are allowed to travel under parliamentary entitlements to help MPs ‘‘balance their work and family responsibilities’’ but the names are not released in the six-monthly travel reports detailing the flights and costs…

The Courier Mail 18 March 2014:

A LIBERAL MP whose ­husband once failed to pay a $1 million tax bill will be forced to show what taxpayer-funded expenses she claimed for him after an embarrassing backdown by the Federal Government.
The Finance Department has backflipped on a ruling that politicians could hide the names of family members who enjoy taxpayer-funded travel after The Courier-Mail appealed the move to block expenses relating to Ryan MP Jane Prentice and her husband Ian.
The agency also admitted its initial freedom of information ruling was wrong ­because its scope was too ­narrow and will now release other travel by Mr Prentice ­beyond just airfares.
In a further embarrassment, the department has admitted it was told by the Information Commissioner that such information should not be hidden.
Mrs Prentice claimed thousands of dollars worth of family expenses during her first term in parliament but ­declined to provide the identity of family travellers in travel reports to parliament…


James McConnell said...

If parliamentarians are doing the right thing why should there be any necessity to not disclose their expenses.
Before the election last year Tony Abbott promised a government that would be open and transparent instead we have had secrecy and lies.fivecha Lazarus

Brendan Kelly said...

Give all MPs a pay rise of, say, ten grand and make them pay for all their own expenses. It'll work out cheaper.