A pox on Parliamentary privileges and entitlements

It’s been pretty hard for anyone in the wider public to think that parliamentary privilege abuse has been simply a matter of ‘just a few bad eggs’,  but the revelations of the last couple of days have been staggering.  We can now be 100% certain that what we thought was just a bad cold sore on the lip of Australia’s body politic is the tertiary stage of Australia’s parliamentary entitlement pox.

It doesn’t matter where you look, there is no avoiding the grotesque sense of entitlement our politicians have.  Even Australia’s mainstream media have twigged to the possibility that while our politicians are sending out debt collectors on an algorithm generated witch hunt, a completely different set of rules applies to them.

Lets start at the Rupertarian where it appears our Foreign Minister has dipped into our pockets to offset costs associated with her social diary.

The foreign minister charged taxpayers more than $2700 to attend a polo event last year on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula as a guest of Peroni and Jeep.

Australia’s taxpayers could ask themselves if they would get better value out of overpaying some some beanbag bongmaster a welfare payment (presumably these would at least head down to Aldi and blow it) than they would out of coughing up $2700 to have our Foreign Minister attend an event, in Australia, where she is the guest of companies who consider minimising tax a core company requirement, where the only tangible benefit for most taxpayers is in the social pages.

Maybe we should ask Peroni and Jeep to get some Centrelink claimants over for the polo this year and take up any unused canapés. Harpers Bazaar gives us a superb look at the types of people attending the event, and today’s Fairfax fills in some extra details on the guest list.

Department of Finance records show Ms Bishop spent $2177 on flights from Perth to Melbourne via Sydney, claiming $416 for car travel and a further $123 for the MPs standard travel allowance.

Other guests at the event included sports stars, socialites, models and former prime minister Tony Abbott’s daughter, Frances Abbott.

Ms Bishop is reportedly planning to attend the event again this weekend with her partner David Panton, as guest of Italian auto giant Alfa Romeo.

It does give rise to a question of if the Foreign Minister did a single thing which would come under the heading ‘represent Australia’s interests internationally’ and did far more representation amidst B grade celebrities and socialites (and one wonders how many of them have their affairs in order to avoid paying as much tax as possible) and her partner, leading directly to the question of why taxpayers picked up the tab.

5-Julie-Bishop-Jeep-Polo

We paid for this happy couple of mix with assorted B Grade celebrities at a polo event – isnt that great taxpayer value!

Over at SBS, another report suggests that taxpayers coughed up to help guests at Prime Minister Turnbull New year’s Eve functions.

Four government ministers billed taxpayers almost $7000 to attend Malcolm Turnbull’s private harbourside New Year’s Eve reception in 2015 – even as the majority of the Coalition frontbench paid their own way.

The guests were served Chermoula spiced quail breasts with pomegranate molasses and Sydney rock oysters with chardonnay vinegar dressing, at the glitzy 185-person celebration that cost taxpayers almost $10,000.

Entitlements claims for the period covering the party, just months after Mr Turnbull assumed his prime ministership, were only revealed last month.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton flew from Brisbane on December 31st, returning on January 1st, and claimed flights, COMCAR costs and a $468 travel allowance to attend.

Attorney General George Brandis was in Sydney between December 30th and January 1st, and claimed flights, COMCAR and travel allowance for two days.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield claimed COMCAR costs and flights for himself and a family member to fly to and from Melbourne for the evening, flying to Sydney on December 31 and back on the 1st.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham claimed only a single taxpayer-funded Cabcharge for the visit, totalling $62.53.

A spokesperson for Senator Birmingham confirmed he attended “an official function” at Kirribilli House “while on a privately funded trip to Sydney” but claimed “all other aspects of the trip were self-funded by the Minister”.

Spokespeople for the other three ministers all confirmed the entitlements claims were based around attendance at the event, and all described it as an “official function”.

The ambient thinker on that one need simply ask if most Australians want their hard earned taxes funding access to Chermoula spiced quail breasts with pomegranate molasses, or simply want essential services sorted out?  Again taxpayers could ask if they would get better value for money by overpaying welfare recipients.  Could we make it mandatory that at every event where politicians are funded in any way by the public to attend events there needs to be at least a dozen welfare recipients? Just to make sure the table is picked clean?

spicedquailandpomegranate

Spiced quail and pomegranate – just imagine nibbling on this while hobnobbing at the Prime Minister’s NYE party after soaking taxpayers with the costs to get there! 

Meanwhile back with Sussan Ley, who was the first symptom of this latest bout of Australia’s parliamentary entitlement pox, it appears there are some more issues that taxpayers should be aware of.  The first is that low-balling real estate speculation on the Gold Coast is an ongoing interest of the Minister while on Ministerial duties.

But the Albury-based MP’s troubles could worsen after retired couple Adrienne and Stewart McEachran came forward to claim that she and her partner, Graham Johnston, inspected their home in Advancetown, in the Gold Coast hinterland, in late August and on September 8 in 2014.

Government documents reveal that Ms Ley billed taxpayers more than $2000 in travel costs for a long weekend on the Gold Coast from September 5 to 8, 2014.

The costs included $720 for two nights of travel allowance, more than $1000 in flights to and from Coolangatta, and $271 for a hire car.

Ms Ley refused to answer queries on the latest claims.

Ms McEachran said of Ms Ley: “She was friendly and obviously looking to purchase something. She must have been impressed enough that she came back.”

The couple said that in October, Ms Ley made an offer that was about $50,000 below the mid-$700,000 asking price, and they declined.

The second is that she likes taxpayer funded trips to the Gold Coast, and likes them a lot.

The ABC has analysed three years’ worth of the minister’s travel reports and found she travelled to the Gold Coast 20 times.

As the sun set on the final days of 2013, Ms Ley charged taxpayers $655 for her flight to the tourist strip for New Year’s Eve.

A year later, after another Gold Coast New Year’s Eve, she charged for her and her partner’s flights back to Sydney.

The most expensive flight was a $12,365 charter flight taken in March 2015.

The ABC put questions to Ms Ley’s office about 18 trips, worth $53,877.

She declined an interview, but her office issued a statement saying: “In her portfolio, she is required to undertake extensive meetings with doctors, patients and other organisations that are not media or public events.”

But former Minister Ley’s issues appear to be growing by the day with the Daily Telegraph suggesting that the individual from whom she purchased an apartment, Martin Corkery, had received a ‘Staff Training Grant’ worth nearly $110K in 2014 when Sussan was Assistant Education Minister, and

companies controlled by the embattled Ms Ley’s Gold Coast party pal, training tycoon Sarina Russo, have won $768 million in government contracts since the ­Coalition took power in 2013.

Could be the basis of a deep friendship, that sort of contractual obligation.

leyrusso

One of these friends has job placement and training firms which have won $768 million worth of government since since the ­Coalition took power in 2013 according to the Daily Telegraph.  The other is a former Assistant Education Minister, who went on to become Health Minister, and who likes entitlements, buying Gold Coast apartments on a whim, and flying.

The third is that Ms Ley thinks taxpayers should pick up the tab so she can keep up her flying hours by chartering flights when commercial flights are a cheaper option.  Its a great look!

…travel records reveal the licensed commercial pilot also charged $6300 to fly from Canberra to Melbourne in July 2014 and another $7000 to travel from Canberra to Adelaide in May 2015.

Ms Ley’s social media accounts indicate she was in the cockpit.

On both occasions she had official ministerial business to attend to – for childcare policy meetings in 2014 and talks with GPs in 2015.

However, ministerial guidelines say charters can only be used under special circumstances “such as where no scheduled commercial services exist or a minister would be unduly delayed by the use of scheduled services”.

A spokesman for Ms Ley refused to say whether any such special circumstances existed.

leyplane2

Sussan likes to fly, and she likes you to pay…….and she likes trips to the Gold Coast, and real estate speculation, and you paying some more…

As Fairfax notes, the choice of travel mode is no longer about effectiveness or cost, but about her and what provides the most enjoyment – with other nearby parliamentarians setting a far better example.

Ms Ley also regularly charters planes between Canberra and her home base of Albury, with costs ranging from $1500 to $4000 per flight – even though it’s only a three and a half hour drive.

Other MPs from the area, including neighbouring crossbench independent Cathy McGowan, regularly make the drive.

Let us acknowledge that she does have a large electorate, that flying will often save time when she wants to meet people, and that in some instances there are benefits for her electorate in her having a flying licence.  But given she already observably meets flying hours requirements from flying about her electorate (which the taxpayer has shelled out $210K for since 2014) taxpayers have every right to ask what conceivable benefit is in it for them to be paying for aircraft charter to and from Canberra when alternatives are cheaper.

The only conceivable answer is that she wants to fly and thinks that the public should pick up the costs associated with her wants rather than her responsibilities. (CB: I want this gig! Time to dust off my election campaign…)

Those with a sense of humor will be happy to note Arthur Sinodinos has stepped into take Sussan’s place while she is taking a breather from the public gaze.  That’s ICAC Artie for you people.

Senator Sinodinos was chairman of the NSW Liberal party’s finance committee in when then party fundraiser Paul Nicolaou raised the prospect of using the federally registered FEF to accept donations from property developers.

Property developers had just been banned from donating to NSW state election campaigns from 2010, just ahead of the March 2011 poll.

In May, Senator Sinodinos was asked by Labor Senator Penny Wong: “Did the cabinet secretary ever participate in or witness discussions about the use of the Free Enterprise Foundation to channel and disguise donations by prohibited donors?”.

Senator Sinodinos responded: “No”.

But on Thursday Labor Senator Jenny McAllister said the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s Operation Spicer report into this and other Liberal party fundraising matters had “seemingly contradicted” this answer.

The report found the FEF was used to “channel” banned donations into the NSW Liberal party’s 2011 campaign.

Senator McAllister noted that the ICAC’s report, tabled in the NSW Parliament on Tuesday, stated then state director Mark Neeham had said Mr Nicolaou raised the use of the FEF at a finance committee meeting in relation to the property developer ban.

arthur-sinodinos-leaves-icac-hearing-data

Artie loved ICAC, not.

But if you thought symptoms of the tertiary stage of Australia’s parliamentary entitlement pox ended there you’d be wrong.  The ABC tells us too that Finance Senator Mathias Cormann, Trade Minister Steve Ciobo, and Tasmanian senator David Bushby billed travel to Melbourne for the 2013 AFL Grand Final to taxpayers – after being given free tickets.

Thats right, for a game many people simply cannot get tickets for, and which many supporters make a considerable effort to attend, these guys have not only got the freebie (and the NAB hospitality box) but have expected the public to provide the magic carpet so that not a single iota of their presence at the game reflected an effort they made.

ministers footy

What is the point of free AFL Grand Final tickets if you have to pay for your own travel, right?……They are entitled for you to pay for their travel (and their wives too), and you did.

Another fine exponent of the taxpayer funded travel when the tickets are free dynamic appears to be Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, and then Defence Industry Minister, Darren Chester, who had the taxpayer pick up the travel tab when attending soccer and tennis, all the while snaffling another addition for his property portfolio.

Mr Chester claimed travel allowance, worth $876, for January 26 and 27.

A spokeswoman said Mr Chester’s official business included representing the government at an Australian Defence Force enlistment ceremony at the Shrine of Remembrance on January 27.

After attending several Australia Day events in his electorate of Gippsland, Mr Chester attended a football match that night between the Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC at the invitation of Victory chairman Tony Di Pietro. The following night he attended the Australian Open quarter finals as a guest of Qantas.

Mr Chester’s spokeswoman said the visits to the football and tennis were part of Mr Chester’s official business over the Australia Day period.

He at least appears to have some minor substance, bearing in mind the duties at the Shrine would have taken about 2 hours, tops, but we seem to have another obvious example of a politicians not recognising that when they get the free ticket, or when they are the ‘guest’ of a corporate or organisation, then they start to move from representational duties to private jolly, and that taxpayers (some of whom would like to attend those events themselves) shouldn’t be asked to cough up for the travel.

ChesterDarrenDarren Chester is another for whom free corporate provided tickets to major events is an ideal opportunity to snip the taxpayer for some travel. 

 

Now the government is putting out into the media that it will do something about the issue of politicians entitlements.  There is no problem with believing that the Government would like the public to believe that it is going to do something about it, because even as profoundly inept a collection of individuals as Australia’s federal politicians must surely be aware that public patience with them is running out.  The problem is in believing that they will do anything of substance, or will do anything of substance within a timeframe which is meaningful, or will do anything of substance to those politicians who have been found take the piss out of the system.

The doubts about what they may actually do stem from two fronts.  The first is that the public face of doing something about it is Acting Special Minister of State Kelly O’Dwyer.  Kelly O’Dwyer, for those who don’t know, headed an investigation into the Foreign Investment Review Board and the approval process for foreign buyers of Australian real estate.

She identified FIRB had failed the Australian public, but 18 months down the track the Australian public could rightly ask themselves what has actually changed when it comes to foreign nationals buying Australian houses?  There were lot of proposals, a mooted ATO data match of buyers and FIRB approvals, and a database back in 2014.  But in 2017 what has actually changed?  What assurances do the Australian public have that foreign nationals aren’t buying existing Australian housing  and aren’t laundering corruption proceeds in Australian real estate?  The second tranche of the AML-CTF (Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act) legislation was supposed to be enacted in 2008 – and 9 years later we are still waiting.

The second cause for doubt about whether the government wants to do anything at all about politicians entitlements is that it has been in possession of a review carried out in the wake of Bronwyn Bishop’s legendary chopper charter in 2014 since 2015.  In the time since it has done nothing whatsoever about it.  And every day nothing is done taxpayers have every right to ask if their politicians have simply devolved into parasites.

KOD

Kelly O’Dwyer’s investigation into the complete failure of FIRB to address illegal buyers of Australian real estate, and subsequent failure to do a single thing about it, is a good reason to doubt when she says the Government will address parliamentary entitlement rorts by June this year.

The ABC and Finance Department have compiled table on expenditure by politicians and every Australian should take a look.


Finally, no Australian should think about their politicians and the abuse of entitlements which they may embark upon without thinking about Bronwyn Bishop.  When the claims about Sussan Ley first entered the public domain this woman, who could rightly be considered the mother of the Australian parliamentary entitlement mindset, spoke live on Sky News about her thoughts.

This woman suggests that politicians aren’t to blame because their administrative staff make the travel arrangements, that anyone wanting to ensure that politicians don’t rip off taxpayers is a socialist, and that politicians entitlement abuses are somehow connected with free enterprise.  Every time a claim is made about a potential abuse of entitlements by a member of parliament people should go back to this video of Bronwyn because she embodies the mindset Australia’s politicians all too often have when it comes to abusing the public purse for their enjoyment and disguising this as some form of public service or sacrifice.

It would be laughable if it wasn’t our government – and it should be acknowledged things would be no better if it was the opposition in power, and that the smaller parties are every bit as much prone to this behaviour – and it wasnt our parliament.  But it is, and it is no longer particularly funny.

It is time for political heads on sticks.  It is time for forcing the resignation from parliament of all politicians found to have abused their positions or their entitlements, and it is time for their access to their parliamentary pensions to be on the table when it comes to having politicians treat the taxpayer and public with some respect.

Comments

  1. Holy [email protected], Gunna, a Tour de Force. Best thing on MB in AGESSSS

  2. At times like this, I reach for a mix of The Herd and Rage Against The Machine and Rise Against. RATMs timeless anger and accurate characterisation of what is wrong is as apt now as when their eponymous self titled LP came out.

    Here’s some Herd, Long Lunch. Kinda sums it up.

    Top dog settled at Kirribilli house
    Give me a can of kerosene and it get liberally doused
    Miserable louts
    You made my home a target for terrorists
    And we created wealth and then we see you not sharing it
    You be staring down the barrel of some pissed off youths
    If you hypocrites on fire they wouldn’t piss on you
    They saw you and your cronies all rortin’ the system
    So they rort the dole and asked what’s the f**ckin’ difference?
    Only a couple of million not counting the super
    And then if you want less than 50G you out of the loop
    Like the rich you got the better tax accountants
    Like the ones who made a molehill out of Packer’s mountains
    So for six years counting I haven’t paid a cent
    And if my HECS debt hit I couldn’t pay the rent
    Don’t forget that these c**nts who got a free education
    Are the same ones that talk of mutual obligation

    Lay back and take the pay packet
    Top dogs all play the same bracket
    Long lunches, cars and hotels
    The boss don’t know so don’t tell

    Lay back and take the pay packet
    Top dogs all play the same bracket
    Long lunches, cars and hotels
    The boss don’t know so don’t tell

    He rode the elevator to the seventh floor
    Sweaty palms, collar tight as he walked into the board room
    Trying to look convincing in his in fitting suit
    He took his place before the panel for the job interview
    Now how could you contribute the questions game
    He’s only in it for the loot but he’s still playin the game
    And telling them, what they wanted to hear
    Bout how the advertised appointment was his dream career
    The office monkey, he got the job
    Prey partition, grey desk, grey suit, grey hair, grey position
    Great hustles, he had the promos in the post
    After hours photocopying the flyers for shows
    Long distance phone calls international faxes
    But soon his actions caught his manager’s eye
    Written warning, last chance he was put on probation
    Fine fire me he said but think about the piece your taking when you

    Lay back and take the pay packet
    Top dogs all play the same bracket
    Long lunches, cars and hotels
    The boss don’t know so don’t tell

    Lay back and take the pay packet
    Top dogs all play the same bracket
    Long lunches, cars and hotels
    The boss don’t know so don’t tell

    (Frankly, I’m just about sick to death of it
    There’s no corruption story
    I’m not gonna step down I’m not gonna resign there’s nothing
    There’s nothing there
    I’m not gonna resign anyway over a good deed
    There’s no corruption, it’s simply an act of good faith)

    Look me in the eye and say you never saw it coming
    Imaged by our good will hunting
    By any means nothing
    We stand tall but my minimum wage keeps cutting
    You wedge me in and expect me to watch you keep cutting
    Dolph Lundgren mixed with Mr. Ricky Gervais
    You can consider this a tribute to the shit that you pay
    Casual rates, evict us, shutting the drapes
    Lower the conditions no one even feels for the place
    You can have your caviar man I’ll keep my crumbs
    Paycheques that pay salary I’ll manually add sums
    So bang your hand drum, take production offshore
    But John will stop falls through cracks in the shop floor
    What, you’re wanting me to be loyal to this chain?
    This bullshit name paying me this short change?
    People, have their revenge range
    You know what I’m saying we speak the same

    Lay back and take the pay packet
    Top dogs all play the same bracket
    Long lunches, cars and hotels
    The boss don’t know so don’t tell

    Lay back and take the pay packet
    Top dogs all play the same bracket
    Long lunches, cars and hotels
    The boss don’t know so don’t tell

      • My core rotation consists of Propagandhi almost exclusively (for the angry stuff, bike rides, and also coz I like them and their message) and Lagwagon for fun. Then my brother’s band, Human Face. That’s about it right now.

      • The lyrics, as I understand them (having only heard snippet), of Damian Cowell’s new single ‘Come one Waleed’ suggest he’s taking up exactly where TISM left off.

  3. Whatever the truth or legality of Ley’s use of travel claims, it certainly seems a bit of a tactical blunder for someone without substantial factional support behind her (she is proudly unaligned), or Sinodinos-style knowledge of where the bodies are buried, to risk sparking a large scale backlash against the entitlements of all current Commonwealth parliamentarians.

    • Excellent insight.

      Prediction (based on no experience whatsoever)
      She’ll be sacked
      That’ll make Turnbull think he’s done enough and placate the masses
      Some jowl shaking by Labor and some low level Liberal potatoes like the risible O’Dwyer
      Di Natale will make some noise
      NXT will get no changes

      But the anger will be there

      One Nation to benefit.

      You cannot make this stuff up.

      If Turnbull had half a brain he’d push through NXTs reforms for fines etc and an ICAC/independent oversight and tightening
      i.e. dumpkopf Cormann and his hopeless schlepping pals should have paid for the grand final
      and the polo
      and..

      and…

  4. And as a reminder that such indulgence is across the board, Bowen and O’Connor each charging taxpayers $10k to take families to Darwin for politics in pubs night.

    Bishop has some explaining to do re the polo claim but I would generally expect Foreign Minister and a Western Australian based one to have significant travel expenses.

    • A ‘politics in the pub’ night sounds like an event where a pollie meets real people.
      Given the lengths our pollies seem to go to only associate with party donors, sports stars and B-list celebs, I’m struggling to find the energy to feel angry with pollies who willingly travel to meet voters.

      • Lol. All are voters. What about Ley’s ridiculous claim she was having discussions with a patient (also a voter). It’s wrong when advantage accrues to the politician regardless of the voter demographic.

  5. Any rules in this area can be abused, because ministers can always arrange for a meeting to be held. So if a minister wants to go to Location X for some private matter (a polo match, the AFL Grand Final, whatever), he can always get his staff to arrange a meeting, which he will attend, before or after he has done his private business. He can then say that it was all within the rules. Within pragmatic limits, this is inevitable and even tolerable.

    Ley’s downfall was that she got sloppy and greedy. She was sloppy in that she took a ComCar from her meeting to the auction for her rental property, and that incremental trip was purely for private purposes. She got greedy by hiring a plane at great cost so she could keep her hours up for her pilot’s licence when cheaper options were available. This is what is known as Bronwyn Bishop territory. The fact that she did this after Bronwyn Bishop got caught and vomited up out of the Speaker’s job speaks volumes for Ley’s judgement, arrogance and hubris.

    Expense rorting can never be stamped out completely. Smart politicians have a sense of where the line is and know not to cross it. Ultimately what is needed is a culture where politicians don’t see the taxpayer as a piñata that they can whack as much cash out of as quickly as they can, but culture is a big and slow tanker to turn around.

    • Why?

      If one of my mates is having a wedding in Bali, do i try to have a ‘work’ meeting just before hand so that i can tax deduct the airfares and accomodation. the same rules should apply for all.

      • The ATO has rules about what can be deducted. If you stay for a week and have one day of business, you only get to deduct 1/7 of your accommodation cost. But you can deduct the whole airfare, because you needed to spend that airfare to get to your meeting.

    • I think part of this is the very bad timing of Politicians rorting their travel expenses hitting the headlines at the same time as the CentreLink debacle. What it screams out is that the Politicians consider themselves a sort of “master race” that can do as they please. Obviously, the people on CentreLink are deplorables who sponge off society whereas the politicians are God’s Gift to humanity. Let them trade property among themselves like pokemon cards – as long as they keep everything on track. Make those partially employed Schizophrenics sell a kidney and cough up a few thousand dollars they pilfered by bad form filling! Hire proper staff to fill out your dole form next time!

      It is mostly the Liberals, but Labor is getting there as well – an entrenched view that society is divided into the “good” people and the “bad” people. The “bad” people are a burden – lazy good for nothing bludgers who are a waste of space. It is only by virtue of the noble spirits of the betters that the low-life get anything at all. It is true that the pollies are often high achievers. Sussan Ley can fly a plane. How many people can do that? Unfortunately, going down that track has never had a happy ending in the past. Hubris, arrogance, soft corruption – it never ends well.

  6. For Gods sake, at the first hint of Free Enterprise, the likes of you Socialists spit the dummy and whinge! Its UnAustralian.

    If a fellow wants to enjoy a Chardonnay-encrusted, Smoked Quail in Pomegrate Jus, then thats his own damn business! What do the little people pay their taxes for, if not for that?

      • She didn’t say it. Does anyone really believe some some teenage girl bears any responsibility for what happened?

        The enduring lesson of the French revolution is this: The plebs pretty much begged the aristocrats to return, and the guillotines were turned upon the revolutionaries once the masters were back in power.

        But its all washed away by imagining that some pretentious little noble girl “got wot was coming to ‘er”.

      • Its irrelevant what she did not did not say, its just an expression used now to point out how ignorant and arrogant those sitting at high table are.
        To them if they have run out of bread they will eat cake, or for that matter lobster while being completely ignorant to the starving millions living outside the gold plated walls.
        As for the definition of ‘Plebs’ you mean the vast majority who were not born into privilege? by choice?

  7. Great article. I am literally shaking with rage. That photo of those fools at the AFL grand final. Cormann has lost whatever credibility he had. Absolute pitiful fools.


    • Cormann has lost whatever credibility he had

      The bloke who caught on film smoking cigars with Hockey before the un-passable Budget was launched has lost what now?

      • True. I had forgotten the cigar bit. Maybe I was thinking he might have regained a shred of it by keeping a low profile since then ; )

        I also think rorting of expenses is the lowest of the low for politicians. Just so hypocritical. At least Hockey / Cormann paid for their stogies (I think!!).

  8. Ministers aside, it’s hard to know why any politician should get an allowance to travel other than to and from their electorate to Canberra or around their electorate or for travel on official Parliamentary business (eg inquiry hearings) that might be held elsewhere.

    Quite clearly, just about everything else is a Party political matter.

      • The government already has an enormous free kick because they are the govt but yes, some restrictions for Ministers would be required as well.

        As a tradeoff, I am happy for Parties generally to get a bigger allowance which they can then work out the best way to spend. The current problem is that there are effectively no limits.

  9. To play the devil’s advocate*,
    how is this different (apart from scale of course) to the doctors that I know who holiday in Europe and find a dodgy conference so that they can clam some of the expenses back on tax.

    Our whole system is rort upon rort and if the modus operandi of the Australian people is to take as much as possible, why should we be surprised if our elected representatives excel at it.

    *I still want all their heads on sticks, I just think that we need more than a purge in Canberra. To mis-quote the Joker, “This country needs an enema.”

    • @ footsore, the difference is that when doctors and other professionals look for conferences in the area they’d like to holiday, it is a tax deduction. In the case of our politicians, they get the whole lot paid for.

      • I understand that. It is why I said it is a matter of scale. My greater beef was with the culture we have in Australia. The politicians are repugnant, but as Lord Haha says, they are what we deserve and seem to be, in a general sense, a reflection of us.

        It would be interesting to know if there are any people who are not upset because what the politicians are doing is morally reprehensible, but because they can’t do something similar themselves.

  10. These politicians should be thankful that they are not in “Communist” China as they would’ve been shot by now.. or god forbid the middle ages they could’ve got their heads off by telling us all “EAT CAKE You socialist SUCKERS”….Thank god for DEMOCRACY

    • Haha…Chinese official corruption is on a whole ‘nother level. All kinds of shenanigans with those special car plates they have and getting preferential treatment. You only risk getting shot if your negligence/incompetence is so great that social harmony would be disrupted if you weren’t. Given how politically apathetic/silent/careful the Chinese are, it takes some truly disgusting incompetence/corruption before you risk the bullet.

  11. Guys “185-person celebration that cost taxpayers almost $10,000.” thats “almost” $54 a head, hardly worth the fuss and likely well below what half the union offices across the country spend (and well below what the average listed corporate does).

    Lets keep the debate sensible, not sensational (and frankly, outrage over buying a property while on a business trip is sensational, forking out to have your partner tag along, that probably worthy of the most outrage).

    • I dunno Brent. I reckon it’s worth a bit of a fuss when the $10,000 in question is expenses claimed on the public purse by just four of those 185 guests…..realistically three if you discount the piddly $62.53 claimed by Simon Birmingham.

      Let’s also not erect straw men by trying to frame the debate around the purchase of a property shall we.

    • Sorry, disagree strongly there. If a private sector employee were to do something like that (buying a property) on a business trip (and bear in mind she was doing these non-business activities during the working day), they’d be sacked. All she needed to do was pay for the trips where she conducted that business out of her own pocket, and no problem.

      And its the look of it also – specufesting on the public teat. Its bad enough that many of our elected reps have such major property investment habits, without the taxpayer paying for their property hunting trips (as well as implicitly being on the hook for when the system breaks).

    • No straw men here, the entire media narrative has been about flying to purchase a property. To me that’s a side issue and not one worthy of attention, the $4,000 bill for a weekend of family travel that presumably is totally within the ‘rules’ that is the issue in question. Of course it has now sprung multiple skeletons from closets. I’m simply wary of this descending into pitch fork nonsense.

      And no, you would not be sacked for that activity from the majority of corporates, not in the slightest. As a public representative she should have strictly proportioned the cost, but dragging that component of it out like it’s somehow equivalent to chopper-gate is not justified.

      • Pitchfork nonsense.

        Rrrrrrright.

        Seems you’re path of the apathy problem.

        This demands pitchforks actually.

        Unless of course…wait a minute…you’re somehow on this rort train?

      • Not at all, no affiliation with public servant expenditure what so ever. I have no issue with pitchforks over general entitlements and the gross over reach frequently revealed. I’m just amazed that it would seem ‘peak outrage’ has been reached on the basis of an over-reach that was fairly minor – that is, spending a few hours of personal time to attend an auction during a business trip (which is the component the media continues to harp on about). Relative to private chartered jets, helicopters and $100k study tours surely you can see my point?

      • I’m just amazed that it would seem ‘peak outrage’ has been reached on the basis of an over-reach that was fairly minor – that is, spending a few hours of personal time to attend an auction during a business trip (which is the component the media continues to harp on about).

        Because it’s pretty easy to generate outrage about somebody so out of touch they think an excuse of ‘I buy property like most women buy shoes’ was better than ‘I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done it’. It’s not the overreach per se, it’s what was done with the overreach. I’d wager something similarly personal but more relatable like attending a relative’s wedding would not have attracted similar focus.

        Also, I agree with you that the partner travel allowance – of which this is yet another example – is an absurdly generous rort that should be the first thing to go in any reform.

      • Brent, you’re missing the point. Sussan Ley’s travel to QLD on ‘official business’ appears to be a smoke-screen to be able to claim a travel allowance for herself and her partner to purchase a property on the Gold Coast. Doesn’t matter whether or not that was her intent – the perception is that that’s what happened and there’s no denying now that she’s been well and truly caught out rorting the tax payer.

      • That’s correct Hixtar. Nobody ever questioned young Jimmy Doolittle claiming a trip to China to buy RE because he did some firebombing over Tokyo on the way. Offical business and all above board. This numerology lady didn’t firebomb anyone except maybe now her own colleagues as a bit of collateral damage.

        They should just stop making shit up. Who can forget when our Tony had a party to go to in Melbourne? He hopped a flight, went and got pissed and next morning just showed up at a hospital for a ‘meeting’. Not one soul knew what he was there for. Probably a hangover cure but they really shouldn’t be able to claim allowances for that.

      • I don’t think the outrage is over one trip to the Gold Coast.
        That was the spark but the fuel for the outrage has been that the ex-Minister has spent more nights on the Gold Coast than in most state capitals. A bit more accelerant was poured on when it transpired she might have been flying herself on expensive charter jollies on well-served commercial airline routes.

      • The reason it took off and caused as much outrage as it did is because of the juxtaposition with the Centrelink debacle, falsing claiming debts from tens of thousands of Australians.

  12. What can we plebs do about this trough nosing lot?
    Venting here at MB is good to release some frustration but seriously how do we send a clear message to these smug tossers.
    Contacting each one, en masse, to enquire of their swilling activities?
    Naming and shaming?
    Sign a petition on Change.org ?
    https://www.change.org/p/get-rid-of-obscene-politician-superannuation-and-perks

    MBer’s unite! Lets cause them all to remember what the inside of their own pockets feel like!

  13. Good one Gunna ……stick it to em !!

    Bronwyn is an awful advertisement for the LNP ……….looks like anyone questioning pollies easing a little taxpayer money into their own pockets are enemies of “free” enterprise and socialists …(I was waiting for her to say deplorables ) ……..it would never occur to her that people might be questioning “free ” private travel . It’s hard to believe this oxygen thief lasted so long in Parliment ……..and looks like she must have laid a fair bit of blame around on her administrative staff during those years …….it’s “the helps” fault apparently if they booked a taxpayer paid flight and car for Ms Ley to inspect property to build her private investment portfolio.

    Bronwyn should just crawl away ………as other people have asked ..what has she done in her time in Parliment to make Australia a better place? What she has done is to develop a grotesque sense of self importance and entitlement as very graphically displayed on this video .

    • Personally I think she is that bad a look for Australian politics (not just the Torynuffs) that I hope she gets plenty of airtime

      I want the people of Australia hearing her speak, and seeing with their own eyes just how unrepentant a woman who slaked on the public teat for a generation can be.

    • You’re all being too hard on the BronnieCopter. Why, it wasn’t that long ago that she too was a Socialist and called for Peter Slipper’s head over a paltry $950 of dodgy travel.

      She’s just an old Socialist who’s a little bit confused. One that should fuck off and die admittedly, but yes, a confused old dear.

  14. A solution, maybe, is to give politicians including ministers a fixed sum of money that they can use for travel, where fixed means fixed. Cabinet ministers get more than junior ministers who get more than backbenchers. Once the money runs out, they can hold their meetings by Skype, or pay for it themselves and claim it on their tax and see if the ATO agrees. This will provide them with an incentive to travel cheaply or not at all for frivolous purposes like the Portsea polo. If there is any left over at the end of the year they can roll it over into the next year.

  15. As a commonwealth government employee i am forced to follow the “Commonwealth Procurement Rules” ensuring transparency, fairness, and vaule for money in the decisions i make when spending taxpayer money. I just opened the document to see the foreward page is endorsed by Mattias Cormann, Minister for Finance. What a frikin joke all of us here in the office are thinking. One set of rules for us otherwise we lose our jobs but a different set of rules for him and all other scum in parliament ….

  16. Private flying is a very expensive hobby, largely unjustifiable to anyone earning under $300K or without a genuine tax vehicle to claim it against. She found herself a nice little loophole, albeit temporarily and is still trying to justify all those ‘charters’, but the reality is up to a certain point, all pilots love to ‘build’ hours.

    I bet if the Feds came knocking as part of their investigation into this complete fraudulent farce that is her affairs, they’d find those ‘charters’ would be logged in her logbook (that is private hire as opposed to charter). She should have put her hat in the ring to be Minister for Transport and Regional Development, responsible for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, amongst other aviation related bodies. At least then she’d have some employment related link that might justify maintaining her pilot’s licence as a taxable education expense. Even then, funding 50% of the cost after tax would clearly be too much for these snouts.

  17. At the very end, you mentioned their pensions. Personally, I think that is of far greater importance than travel expenses. The amounts involved are staggering.

    An article on the pension entitlements of MP’s and ministers would open a lot of eyes.

    • They were certainly wound back in 2004.

      I didnt give much mention to superannuation because it is a legislated entitlement (which the politicians cant change). But I do think their access to what remains a generous system for politicians should reflect a degree of complete and utter probity that the public should be entitled to expect of politicians, and that where a politicians can be demonstrated to have not been above board then their super is in play.

      The other issue is the number of politicians who are still under the far more generous old system. Ley is one.Sinodinos is because of his APS background (in fact he is possibly CSS – the Rolls Royce old APS scheme), Bishop is too

  18. Top article Gunna.
    ‘It is time for political heads on sticks. It is time for forcing the resignation from parliament of all politicians found to have abused their positions or their entitlements, and it is time for their access to their parliamentary pensions to be on the table when it comes to having politicians treat the taxpayer and public with some respect.’
    Agreed. However I suspect at best they will trim it around the edges into a prettier pig. About as much will be done as has been done about FIRB, as you eluded to.
    Perhaps those affected by the digital disruption that Malcolm promised via centrelink could plan in impromptu visit to the polo and similar events.

  19. As Gunna has suggested, go to the ABC interactive and look at the gravy train these people have been involved in for the first six months of 2016. You will find some parasites even out of politics are still claiming – I mean, isn’t there a sunset period on claims?
    BTW the ALP have form in this too. Have a gander at Shortens expenses for family travel and it might make you throw up.

    The blow torch needs to be put onto this by the judiciary and these parasites give evidence under oath, with recommendation to file charges. Jeez, they hammered some of the hapless union people with an over blown RC while swanning around the world on our dime. Polish the guillotine! The first neck test should be that scrawny witch that likes polo.

  20. Gunna .. you missed one. Earlier today there was an article on news.com.au that noted that when Sussan was attached to the education portfolio, she OK’d a $110,000 “Staff Training Grant” to ….. Corkey – the bloke she bought the unit off ( who was also a Lib donor).

    This article has been pulled and I can’t find it. Can anyone see if they can retrieve a link? There must be some high level conflict at News Corpse between the robot journalists and the bigwigs because that article and the Numerology article have both been binned.

  21. FiftiesFibroShack

    That Bishop video was priceless. Only a special person could link public disquiet over politicians entitlements with socialists trying to attack free enterprise. Another quality hire for Sky…

    • Sorry mate, all the timber that would be suitable has been sold to a Chinese group. I am sure they would be happy though to produce the necessary cut timber boards for your project along with a top quality assembly guide, screws, an all purpose phillips head screwdriver, guillotine blade, rope and pulleys.

    • [email protected]

      jarrah…hides the red
      wandoo…. highlights the red
      depending on your feng shui…

  22. Outstanding work Gunnamatta and fair to both sides of politics. The heat is incireasingly on Shorten to change his current stance from approving an inquiry into the need for a Federal ICAC to one of establishing a Federal ICAC as a matter of course.

  23. I owe a debt to Dorothy at the Loon Pond. She shares this on her blog.
    (and I want to thank all here at MB admin for banning embedded images unless your name is Chris..I am forced to transcribe it so we all can share the wisdom.)
    [begin quote]
    During the Whitlam years the government cut costs by getting MPs to travel economy class which provoked
    outrage in Cabinet famously rounded on his ministers….
    “I fly economy and I am a great man and I could fly economy for the rest of my life
    and I’d still be a great man. But most of the people around this table are pissants
    and they could fly first class for the rest of their lives abd they’d still be pissants.” – Gough Whitlam
    [end quote]

    I ask, since when has anything changed?

  24. The Loon Pond is awesome.

    Speaking of pissants, there’s a tale told of the noted Socialist, BronnieCopter. Word is that if she didn’t get her preferred seat in business she would chuck a tanty and try to delay everything.

    Gough would have met Bronnie. Bet he told her to fuck off and die.

  25. My low expectations do not expect much else from our pollies, given their relatively low wages.

    What really irritates me is watching corporates pay no tax and compare it to what ordinary honest taxpayers pay (without the tax planning).

    That is the criminal waste IMHO. If Google, Apple, Ikea and Chevron pay no tax its time to change the law. It should be the most urgent law in the Parliament
    http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/which-of-australias-biggest-companies-are-not-paying-tax-20151216-glpl3a.html

    This is costing us billions. Gunna- Your next project.

      • @ fitzroy, relatively low wages? I disagree, especially when you take into account all their legal perks, let alone the constant rorting of these perks.

        But I do agree that it’s time to change the law, both for the major corporations and the greedy pollies. And yes, of course make it retrospective. Look at Centrelink’s demands for back payments – we expect at least that for the parliamentary privileged

        Great article, Gunna. Keep up the good fight. .

    • Where does this “low wages” myth come from? Most of them have no real skills, and some are literally incompetent (Hi Senator Conroy, looking right at you).

      If they want high wages maybe they should go get a fucking job.

      • The argument has always been that they should be high to stop them poached by commercial organisations. I guess following that logic to its endpoint, we should pay pollies based on what their skills would in fact be worth in the real world. Ley does actually have a skill – she could be paid as much as a regional mail pilot. Someone like Bernardi, Pyne or Swan might see far more significant cuts.

  26. Been saying it for years, we’ve created a modern aristocracy. Both sides of politics are as bad as the other.

    These pricks don’t even bother to pretend they represent the Australian people any more.

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