It's not just Bronwyn Bishop

Monday, August 03, 2015

The Bronwyn Bishop saga over her spending $5,227.00 on a helicopter flight from Melbourne to Geelong to attend a Liberal Party fundraising function, brought about a warranted public outcry, and opened a can of worms for further investigation of her travel expenses. In doing so, this also produced evidence that she used parliamentary travel entitlements to attend weddings that she was not entitled to claim. She did apologise eventually; the opposition called for her head to roll and she has now stood down as Speaker of the Parliament. 

Bronwyn Bishop is not alone when it comes to wrongfully claiming parliamentary entitlements. Prime Minister Tony Abbott admitted to repaying monies that he was not entitled to claim. Warren Truss the Deputy Prime Minister is reported to have paid approx. $21,000 for a short flight to attend a breakfast in Brisbane. Under the Parliamentary Entitlements Act, section 3D did he seek the Prime Ministers approval to do so as a special purpose flight. Although the Act does refer to overseas I would interpret it to also cover in Australia. Is Warren Truss going to pay back his outlandish cost?

What has come to light with regards to this whole debacle is public awareness and therefore greater accountability. Don’t think for one minute that Bronwyn Bishop is the only mismanager of parliamentary entitlements. She has been found out and being made an example of. Bill Shorten is only using this for political point scoring purposes. Clive Palmer and Andrew Wilkie intend to move a motion of no confidence in Bronwyn Bishop to have her removed as Speaker of the House. If they are truly incensed and outraged by the mismanagement of parliamentary entitlements, then move a motion in the house calling for an independent examination of all Members of Parliaments entitlements over the past 5 years. Surely no member would object to this if they have nothing to hide. Bill Shorten has a lot to answer to with the Royal Commission inquiry, now I would like to see some leadership and accountability on his behalf.

As a taxpayer and mother of four, I watch each of my children struggle to own their own home, raise a family, while living a meagre life. This is common practice throughout Australia, I am not alone. I see charities collecting on street corners, door knocking or enlisting the aid of school children and volunteers to help raise funds for so many worthy causes. Yet we see pollies travel flights at the highest available class, daily meal allowance equivalent to that of a single pensioners weekly entitlement. Joe Hockey recently said, “the age of entitlement is over”. Over for who Joe? Definitely not our politicians.

These are some parliamentarian’s costs from 1st July till 31st December 2014

Bob Baldwin, LNP (NSW) - Charter flight $1,480.00, domestic fares $42,947.00, Car $33,708, Travel Allowance $36,315.00 (which is one of the highest)

Dr David Gillespie, Nationals  (NSW) - Family Travel $6,934.00

Mal Brough, LNP (QLD) - Office fit out $336,947.00

Senator Chris Ketter, ALP (QLD) - Family Travel $12,127.00

Senator Glen Lazurus, IND (QLD) - Family Travel $17,836.00

Senator Ian McDonald, LNP (QLD) - Family Travel $18,368.00

Senator Jackie Lambie, IND (TAS) - Office fit out $356,793.00

Kevin Andrews, LNP (VIC) - Family travel $16,451.00

Senator Nigel Scullion, Country Liberal (NT) - Travel allowance $36,348.00, Domestic flights $73,476.00, Charter flights $44,450.00

Senator Penny Wong, ALP (SA) - Family travel $14,998.00

On top of this political parties receive millions of dollars in electoral funding at each and every election. The last federal election cost taxpayers $56,367.240.38

As I have said, a full investigation needs to be held, entitlements should be reviewed. Family members travelling costs should not be borne by the taxpayer. Telephone costs are not cost effective as to what the private sector pays. Domestic and international flights should not be at the highest available class. Hundreds of thousands of dollars for office fit outs, that cost more than building a house, must be investigated.

The cost to the taxpayers is out of control. We are in debt as a nation, taxed to the hilt and now we may be facing further tax increases with talk of raising the GST. We must demand more accountability from our Members of Parliament. They are all quick to accuse the other side for wasting money or cutting back on areas such as the aged, health and education. Not one has called for a cut back on the numbers of politicians, their entitlements or wages. They never will this is one policy they are all united on.

Pauline Hanson

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