Aug 7, 2015

Fixing MP Entitlements

The politicians are saying the problem is the rules are too opaque, and they need to be made clearer. I guess they need rules where they are not tempted to push the definitions of what is allowed to the absolute limit of shameless logic-twisting, intention-denying interpretation, just because everyone else in the parliament is doing it too.

In fact all this really needs is leadership: one decent PM who will say, at the beginning of his or her term in office, "Look, let's stop all this nonsense and all agree to just claim the bare minimum, and let me set up someone whose task it will be to check what you're claiming and disallow anything that would make a reasonable person go, 'Well, that's not reeeeally what the designers of this entitlement had in mind...' "

But since we don't have that, sure, I guess we need to tighten the rules and make them "more transparent".  So fine, it's not that hard.  In fact, the existing rules are actually pretty clear, except for spelling out what is an allowable business trip.

But ok, here are my new rules:

Travel and Accommodation:
  • Business Class air travel is fine
  • no charter flights or helicopters unless there is no commercial flight
  • no air miles can be accrued (the same rule some companies have for business travel)
  • you pay for any family traveling with you
  • taxis or hire cars for urban travel but not for travelling between home and your electorate office
  • no travel allowance for party fundraisers or social events
  • if you have a "work meeting" at the same place as a social event, you pay half the travel cost (and travel rules as above still apply)
  • you can't use your accommodation allowance to pay off your mortgage on a Canberra home. Yes you might have bought the home because you have to spend part of the year in Canberra for work, but the fact you are buying it gives you a personal financial advantage (property wealth) so you can't DOUBLE-DIP by claiming an allowance as well. 
  • To achieve the above, change the flat dollar allowance MPs get for accommodation and food while in Canberra to two separate items, being a flat amount for food and a claim for accommodation, which is only paid for booked-and-paid accommodation 
Study Tours:
  • Stop that nonsense
  • Same as the rest of us
Retirement allowances:
  • existing redundancy arrangements for MPs who lose their seat are fine
  • no funded office or driver. Use a home office
  • Scrap the Gold Pass arrangements for free air travel within Australia for retired long-serving MPs - it's encouraging too many of them to stick around for too long. Let's make it 3 free Business Class trips a year for self and spouse, to attend the odd thingy. 


I also think it's a good idea as someone has suggested, to rename them from 'entitlements' to 'expenses' or 'claims'. If you are told something is an 'entitlement', you are apt to claim it. Just as many taxpayers routinely put in work expense claims for the couple of hundred dollars' stationery claims you are allowed to make without receipts - and can I just add, that I also think this is appalling. Don't do it, people.

There has been unhappiness about MP entitlements before, but this time it's the current government's own harsh budget and rhetoric ("The age of entitlement is over!" - oh, I love it) combined with Hockey's out-of-touch announcements ("poor people don't drive far", "people should get a good job paying good money") combined with the usual dubious expense claims by all of them, that is bringing this to a head.

To finish off: this is the funniest Bronwyn Bishop helicopter meme in my opinion:


  1. The meme made me smile. I almost totally agree with you and your points are so simple to understand. That is what I call transparency. I might make an exception for former Prime Ministers to retain an office for a period of time, perhaps one term of government, but no driver. The living away from home allowance when you are living in a house (home) you are buying most certainly does not pass Hockey's sniff test.

    1. I thought I might have been a bit harsh on the office for retired PMs. Your suggestion is a good compromise. Accepted!

  2. Agreed. And you can't have the living away from home allowance if you are staying in a home owned by your family either. I believe that quite a few politicians claim the allowance when they are staying in Joe's wife's home. If receipts are required, I hope she declares the income on her tax.

    1. Totally agree. If you travel for work on business you only get covered for hotel accommodation naturally can't bill anything to the company if you stay with family or friends. Not hard!

  3. meme are fantastic I hate politicians and their ideology

  4. I don't agree with their pension entitlements, they've done their job, they've retired, let them live on the same age pension we all get. After all, they've had enough perks all the way through, not to mention high pay rates. If they haven't been able to pay off their home and save some $$$, that's too bad.

    1. I do agree the pensions and perks after retirement are too high. Especially when they're constantly looking to chip away at ours.

  5. Hi Jackie.

    Don't get me started on politicians and their "claims". British MPs are just as bad - and I could rant for hours and hours about tis!




    1. And you would think, after the expenses scandal in the UK just a few years ago, that our politicians could have learned from that and made some changes here. But no.

  6. Funny, I'm okay with maybe one family trip up to Canberra, but they have to travel economy. The rest I agree with you.



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