NOT Left or Right, Seriously NOT ALP, LIB or Green. Just a Punter... more

11 Jan 2017

Read the much vaunted 'Entitlements Review' not much changes

Tags : Rorting Entitlements

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Principles to guide parliamentarians’ decision making on work expenses - Good faith - page 64 Review - Parliamentary Entitlements

There are 204 pages in the "Independent Parliamentary Entitlements System Review February 2016", including 36 recommendations. I would strongly suggest that anyone who is interested in the rorting we have seen reported in recent days actually read the whole review.
pdf: “Review - Parliamentary Entitlements”.

We keep hearing from Political commentators and Politicians themselves that the rules are “confusing”,”‘vague”, “open to interpretation” or my favourite line “need to be clarified”.

In my personal opinion, the problem is not the rules at all – beside the fact that too many of the rules are too generous – it is the ‘culture’ of too many in Government. Particularly when it comes to long term MP’s, Senators and Ministers, there appears to be a very ‘entitled’ culture, just replacing the word ‘entitlements’ with “Work Expenses” won’t change these excesses.

Members of Parliament and the Senate are the ultimate ‘public servants’ yet so many appear to think they are Fortune 500 CEO’s, not answerable to anyone, entitled to write off all their expenses as Government business. Considering these people are already very well remunerated for the jobs they do (some of the highest paid in the world), this really is excessive, particularly in light of the Centrelink phishing exercise and the inevitable cuts to social services this particular Government seem to be a massive fan of. If this much higher pay than the world wide average is not to compensate you for long hours and being away from home, then what is it for?  As an aside, I found out this morning that Public Servants are not actually allowed to accept freebies?

Unless I have missed it, I can’t see the Government implementing these recommendations making much difference at all. As long as Ministers think that every business person, lobbyist or fellow MP that extends an invitation to a party or footy final is “Government or Portfolio business”, this rubbish will continue. Hell, if that is how we are going to look at it, seeing as I run a regional portal, that means I could write off every bloody trip to the shops, even visit interstate saying I'm flogging my region at taxpayer expense? I'm sure the ATO will be sweet with that? Maybe not...

In fact, from my reading of this review, it actually makes “Party Business” a thing. I’m sure many of our MP’s will rejoice they no longer have to waste that 30mins on the visit to the local kindy or hospital to write off the travel & accom to get to that Party Fundraiser, Donors Birthday party or mates Wedding anymore?

A few things have been cut back a tad – not much, but hey baby steps;

  • Recommendation 24 - Improving transparency – publish all key documents online: Is a good one. Though I’m sure even if implemented we will suddenly see an awful lot of notations along the lines of “Government business – Commercial in Confidence”, as that always seems to be the favourite line when rubbing shoulders with wealthy business people :(
  • Recommendation 25 - Improving transparency – more frequent reporting: Is also good, though as it is still not live reporting and will only be quarterly, it is only a slight improvement.
  • I’d like to say that “Recommendation 26 Improving transparency – more detailed travel reporting” is a bonus, sadly, I think the rubbery definition of ‘parliamentary business’ (see chapter 4 in the review) means this will sort of be redundant, though, might have stopped Ms Ley doing so many charters (which many suspect was to keep up her air hours to maintain her pilots licence) which was a special sort of rort not seen before LOL!

Anyhow, I could go on, though I really do suggest you read for yourself. Too many talking heads are reporting the Government implementing this review will fix all these Investment Home buying, footy final trips and polo playing ‘misinterpretations’ of Entitlements, that are of course ‘within the rules’. Personally, I’m not so sure and can’t see any silver bullet in here that will stop entitled people taking the piss out of entitlements and not really giving a rats as to whether it fits public expectations, they know something else will come along to get their rort out of the headlines :(

Good luck reading, let me know in the comments if you find something of interest that I missed and should have mentioned :)

cheers,
Noely

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