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Home » Australian Politics » The motes and moaning from the ALP

The motes and moaning from the ALP

I firstly want to apologise for the lack of regular posting of late, sadly my health has been less than grand and I have hardly been up to reading and researching topics to write about. On top of that the medication I have had to take has its limits in terms of just how functional I can be in the other aspects of my life so if something has had to give it has been my contributions here.

Now that the house keeping is over lets get our teeth into the rather meaty  issue de Jour, namely the attempt by the ALP to make a big fuss about the travel expense claims made by coalition  MPs in the last few years. Being an MP is a tough gig and as I have suggested elsewhere on this issue I personally think that there is no such thing as a truly off the clock moment for those we  elect  to our parliament so I find the attacks from the ALP and the other minions of the left rather disingenuous. Its rank opportunism of the most base nature and then my businessman  bro pointed this piece out to me:

click for source

click for source

So let me get this entirely clear, the still leaderless ALP is whining about the tiny details of coalition expense claims while they are putting a 200K bite on the public purse so that they can go through an novel method of deciding who among their greatly reduced number will take up the poisoned chalice of opposition leader. Boy oh boy you just could not run that in an episode of “Yes Minister” now could you?
If ever there is an example of rorting of the travel expenses system it just has to have been perpetrated by the ALP in pursuit of the untried system invented by that arch villain of recent past, Kevin Bloody Rudd. How apt though that the man who single handedly launched the decent of the budget into the spiralling decent from surplus to deficit should invent a system of leadership selection that has to be paid for by the public purse at such a high price?
Surely when it comes to the internal machinations of the opposition it should be the members themselves, or their party who pays the travel expenses?

Even if we accept the premise that its legitimate for MP’s travel to a leadership ballot is legitimate  why on earth does the ALP have to burden the taxpayer  by have a ballot on Thursday to which MPs will come and go and then an announcement on the subsequent Sunday?

Surely they can do the whole piece of theatre on just one day?

Its a very slippery slope once pollies start to finger-point about travel and other expenses and one that can very easily backfire as the ALP is discovering

None the less I am hardly surprised because of there is one thing that characterises the last two terms of government it was the way things very seldom went the way that the ALP expected.  The thing is over the last few weeks Labor has been able to focus upon the feel good message of their new leadership process and I can’t help thinking that this whole load of nonsense about expense claims  has been a very bad political move for Labor. They have just not thought it through any where near enough and the result will be hardly a scratch on Abbott but Labor covered in soot and embarrassment form their misfire.

My good friend Ray has often expressed the hope that Rudd saving some furniture would give us a shot at us  having an effective opposition. On the early soundings I think that was a rather unfulfilled expectation.

Kevin still playing with troublesome trucks

Kevin still playing with troublesome trucks even though his wheels are seized

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111 Comments

  1. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain, Labor MPs flying to Canberra to vote for a new Parliamentary leader IS Parliamentary business.

    It may be indulgent and it may be wasteful in your eyes (and in mine) but … it is not fraudulent.

    It is not an illegal exercise in claiming something you are not entitled to claim, like going for a fun run. It is not ‘private’ business, it is public business. As was Rudd’s flight to see the troops.

    All politicians waste money in conducting legitimate business – that is a given – but that does not justify (or belittle or mitigate) the apparently fraudulent claims made by the likes of Tony Abbott and Dreyfuss.

    You would not make these excuses if it were just Labor ‘illegally’ claiming travel expenses.

  2. Ray Dixon says:

    And seeing you’ve written a new post on this topic, I’ll repeat my comment from the last post:

    Abbott’s sports rorts

    This report from the ABC is damning of Tony Abbott:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-08/abbott-has-history-of-claiming-sporting-event-expenses/5010186

    Abbott’s (um) expenses:

    2011 Port Macquarie ironman
    Flights: $941
    Travel allowance: $349
    Total: $ 1,290

    2012 Pier to Pub race in Lorne
    Flights: $1,095
    Travel allowance: $349
    Total: $1,444

    2012 Coffs Harbour cycle challenge
    Flights: $653
    Travel allowance: $349
    Total: $1,002

    2012 Wagga Wagga Lake to Lagoon fun run
    Total: $515

    ALSO
    (1) In 2010 Mr Abbott paid back $9,400 used to promote his book Battlelines.
    (2) Mr Abbott has also repaid about $1,700 he claimed to attend two weddings in 2006.

    My take on this is that Abbott’s expense rorts are way over the top, especially for someone who at the time was either a Cabinet Minister (as he was in 2006), or the Opposition Leader/Alternative Prime Minister, as he was at the time of the other claims.

    Dreyfuss is definitely a ‘doofus’ for attacking Abbott while having himself made what seems (to me) a fraudulent claim for $400 for staying in Canberra when in fact he paid that money to a ski lodge. He should be sacked for that, if not charged.

    And Abbott’s claims are much worse. He has clearly charged the taxpayer for engaging in his sport/hobby/personal pursuit/passion/obsession by calling it official business? It’s not on. It’s fraud, in my opinion.

    Abbott’s sports rorts are no more acceptable than claiming expenses for promoting his own book or attending Sophie’s wedding, both of which he has now repaid, effectively acknowledging that they were illegally claimed in the first place.

    This guy is now PM and has repeatedly claimed to be above board and squeaky clean while attacking other rorters like Slipper & Thomson. He’s also claimed to be a better economic manager. Well, it seems not.

    Tony Abbott has already proven what I was saying before the election – he is not fit to govern.

  3. James says:

    Both sides of politics have inflated their salaries to a ridiculous level above the normal folk, and both sides it seems rort or at best make mistakes in their expenses. It can’t be that difficult to differentiate between what is personal and what it “business”. We all have to do it. See how you go with the ATO if you try it. If a politician of either side cannot manage this simple task, they have fat chance of running a country. I am NOT impressed.

  4. Ray Dixon says:

    For once I agree with you – but I point out there are more ‘pigs’ with their snouts in the trough on the Coaltion side in that cartoon. Which is about right. Which one is Abbott?

  5. Iain Hall says:

    When would any MP be truly of the clock Ray?

  6. deknarf says:

    Given the general rorting of allowances that appears to be the penchant of ALL politicians may I just say:

    Oink, oink, oink!

    Oink, oink, oink!

    Oink, oink, oink, oink, oink, oink, oink!

    With a pollie wollie diddle every day!!

  7. Iain Hall says:

    Then the solution is to give each MP a reasonable amount of money for travel and accommodation and anything beyond that has to come out of their own pocket. Its a complex system open to much interpretation and there in lays the problem which can only be solved by making it idiot proof (especially for the Labor party)

  8. Ray Dixon says:

    It’s not a question of being on or off “the clock”, Iain. Even when a politician is working, if he buys a set of sunglasses, a new baseball cap and/or a new set of lycras then that is PRIVATE expenditure. Likewise if he hops on a plane to go on a fun run in the country then the costs of getting there and the accommodation are private, not public expenditure.

    It is not hard to work out and I seriously doubt Tony Abbott conducted any Parliamentary or party business in Lorne but, even if he did, it was not the reason he went there. He went there to indulge in his passion for those type of events and he should not have claimed the expenses.

    And no, it’s not a “complex system open to much interpretation” – it ain’t rocket science to know the difference. And if it’s idiocy that’s causing Abbott’s mistakes, then that’s all the more reason he shouldn’t be PM.

  9. Iain Hall says:

    With respect Eay that is nonsense,If someone in politics is in public they are “on the clock” anything they say or do becomes part of the political mix of the nation apart from the privacy of their bedroom and family spaces they are on view and under scrutiny and as such its only fair that they be paid reasonable expenses.

    I find it rather contradictory that you are so keen on sport yourself but that you seek to berate Tony Abbott for being a keen sports-person. Don’t forget that each event he has competed in has been under the glare of the media and therefore the exact opposite of a private activity and as such its reasonable for him to claim appropriate allowances. In any event he has also been doing the hard yards at community acrtivites along the way.
    Admit it Ray if it was Albo doing the rides and swims you would be singing his praises like there is to tomorrow. But its Abbott and you are looking for anything to bag him about.

  10. Ray Dixon says:

    I haven’t berated Tony Abbott for competing in those events, Iain (although I reckon he’s on an ego/adrenalin kick). I’ve only berated him for dishonestly charging the taxpayer with his travel & accommodation expenses to participate in an entirely voluntary and non-political/parliamentary exercise. And no, I wouldn’t condone Albo (or any other politician) doing likewise – that is a poor attempt to discredit my argument.

    If Abbott went on a private holiday to Bright, he’d also be “under the spotlight”. But if he’s only here (or primarily here) to, say, compete in a cycling or paragliding event (his type of thing), then it’s incidental that the media might talk to him while he’s here. If he claimed those expenses of getting to and staying at GG in Bright he’d be cheating ….. (and I’d charge him double of course!)

    NO – it’s NOT “nonsense”, Iain. There are clear lines about what is job-related and what is not. For instance, according to your “always on the clock” claim, he’d also be entitled to charge all his shopping at Woolies to the taxpayer. And the cost of his underpants, no doubt? Well …. ? Come on, there’s a line … and he’s crossed it.

  11. deknarf says:

    Certainly needs to be proofed against abuse by a bunch of greedy little grubs! As for idiots, given Hockey’s performance today I suspect the idiots are now in control of the country!

  12. James says:

    Ray, who do you think pays the grocery bill at the Lodge???? You do mate. For Menzies, Gillard, Rudd and Tony Abbott, you already pick up the wollies tab.

  13. Ray Dixon says:

    I’m talking about Abbott’s private grocery bills, James – i.e. for his home/personal use. That’s a private purchase not a govt one. Just like his private pursuits such as cycling, swimming & running are not govt business either and (likewise) should not be paid by you or me. If we are paying those household bills that’s also wrong – they should be paid from the PM’s already huge salary. And so should his Weet Bix. Or do you think we should pay for his cereal, crumpets and the Omo that washes Abbott’s socks, undies & lycra (not to mention his Speedos)?

  14. GD says:

    Ray:

    Well may you go on about Abbott’s misdoings, however perhaps you should do as Iain suggests and pull the mote from your rusted-on, one-eyed Labor view of the rorts debacle and remember that your Labor clowns are are just as, if not more, culpable when it comes to putting their snout into the trough of public funds.

    Dreyfus’ claim that he ripped the public off for $466 is laughable.

    He didn’t go skiing alone. Check out the other expenses he incurred on this ‘weekend in the snow’.

    http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/andrewbolt/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/should_we_have_paid_for_dreyfuss_family_to_go_skiing/

    Here’s a good one…

    Wayne Swan charged taxpayers more than $12,000 to fly him and two of his children to the AFL Grand final by VIP jet when he was acting prime minister in 2010. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/wayne-swan-used-vip-jet-trips-to-fly-to-grand-finals-with-his-daughter/story-fn59niix-1226735248970#sthash.kJHvzwE3.dpuf

    Julia also blew the budget on tax-payer funded entitlements by using the VIP Challenger aircraft to attend a staffer’s Byron Bay wedding.

    http://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2013/09/julia-gillard-flew-to-norther-nsw-on-a-taxpayer-funded-vip-jet-for-a-staffers-wedding.html

    Ray, I don’t remember you complaining about these infractions

  15. James says:

    And just how much time do you think the Abbotts get to spend at home these days, zilch!!! And lets face it, we all know that a number of MP’s, al la Thomson etc. already put there ‘Crumpets’ on the company credit card.

  16. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    Its really all about the shape of MPs remuneration packages and the current situation is the result of there being a previous system more along the lines that I have suggested, namely an allowance for travel that was essentially a fixed money amount that could be used however the MP pleased and if unused the balance could be taken as a cash top up to the salary. As I recall it there was a big whine about this being “secret” wages when back bench MPs were being frugal enough with travel expenses to pocket most of that money. It was changed to the current system which is much more complicated and requires a great deal more administration. I can’t help thinking that the billable hours for public servants to run the current system would be far more than any monies that have been nominated by the Labor party.
    Further its never as simple as you suggest, take the sporting pursuits that you complain about, are they not part of our PM’s public image? Part of how he markets himself to the voters? Yes? well as such they are integral to his present residency in the top job and therefore any expenses that pertain to them are legitimate work related expenses.Its that simple.

  17. Ray Dixon says:

    GD,
    Your suggestion that I’m simply being biased is nothing more than a diversion on your part. If you want to defend Abbott’s rorts go ahead and explain why without deflecting onto me and other matters please. But, for the record:

    How many times do I have to say that I don’t support this type of rort by any politician? But if that’s all you’ve got on Labor you don’t have much.

    I’ve already said Dreyfus is a ‘Doofus’ and should be sacked and/or charged. As for the other examples, for a Deputy PM to attend the AFL GF is not a rort, it’s almost a duty. Nor is the use of the jet a rort. As for Gillard, how do you suggest a PM travels, by Tiger airways economy class?

    No one is citing Abbott’s use of ‘the company jet’ (he too attended this year’s AFL GF) because that’s how the PM travels, that’s what it’s for, it’s a perk of office.

    Please, we’re talking about making claims for cash reimbursement for expenses incurred on what appears to be private travel and/or accommodation to attend things like weddings (private functions) and/or to participate in a cycling event (a private pursuit). Do you understand the difference? Let me make it clear for you in easy-to-understand simple-stupid terms:

    1. For the PM or Deputy PM to use the VIP Jet to attend functions is not illegal.
    2. But claiming money for private expenses by disguising them as being for “business purposes” is illegal.

    Have you got it now?

    James,
    The questionable expense claims made by Abbott were made when he was either a Howard Cabinet Minister or Opposition Leader. They cast a strong shadow over his fittness to be our PM.

    Iain,
    I don’t care how it was previously adminstered (and I don’t believe politicians ever had a “fixed travel allowance” in the past) but under the present system there are no “limits” set on how much a politician can claim for travel expenses and the system relies on their honesty in how they make claims.

    It really is “simple” – you either claim honestly or you cheat. And if you cheat you’ve potentially commited a crime.

    As for suggesting that Abbott’s sporting pursuits are a legitimate claim because that’s part of his “image”, do you also think a politician who likes to wear expensive designer clothing should be able to claim the cost of an Italian suit because, you know, it’s part of his “image” and how he “markets himself”? I think not.

    And you’re also forgetting that these claims were made BEFORE he became PM, so let’s keep this in its right context.

  18. Ray Dixon says:

    GD, you’ve got me worried with your logic fails and I’m so concerned that you might be sufferring some kind of brain damage that I’ll give you an even simpler example to demonstrate the differences in VIP travel and travel expense rorts:

    If you are a manager in a large company and you get a company car for private use, that’s okay because it’s in your salary entitlement.

    And if you have to go to a business conference interstate the company also pays for the travel, accommodation and meals. That’s also in your entitlements.

    But if you go up to the cashier/accountant and put in a chit to claim expenses for a weekend @ Lorne in which you merely competed in a sporting event and claim it was “business related”, you’re claiming something that you’re not entitled to. It’s called cheating or even fraud. You could be sacked for that and/or your employer might even have you charged.

    Think about it.

  19. Iain Hall says:

    Ray

    It really is “simple” – you either claim honestly or you cheat. And if you cheat you’ve potentially commited a crime.

    As for suggesting that Abbott’s sporting pursuits are a legitimate claim because that’s part of his “image”, do you also think a politician who likes to wear expensive designer clothing should be able to claim the cost of an Italian suit because, you know, it’s part of his “image” and how he “markets himself”? I think not.

    And you’re also forgetting that these claims were made BEFORE he became PM, so let’s keep this in its right context.

    When it comes to encouraging people to be active, healthy and fit there can be no better example than the man in the nation’s top job leading by example and as such I think the country gets very good value out of his sporting pursuits, on that basis alone I think that all of this quibbling about the expense claims is disingenuous and opportunistic.

  20. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain, this relates to Abbott’s private sports pursuits as Opposition leader (and most likely prior to that). He was not doing that to set an “example” and, even if he was, so what? If a politician sets an “example” by, for instance, giving up smoking, should he/she be entitled to claim the cost of the nicotine patches? Of course not. Please mate, you are clutching at straws in an attempt to preserve the sancticty of your idol.

  21. James says:

    Taxpayers slugged $200,000 to fly MPs to Canberra for ALP leadership meetings

    TAXPAYERS will fork out up to $200,000 to fly Labor MPs to Canberra so they can vote for a new parliamentary leader.

    As the Opposition ramps up its attack on Tony Abbott over entitlements, News Corp can reveal the public will pay a high price for the ALP’s bold leadership experiment.

    And several Labor MPs have expressed disgust at the expense of flying around 80 Caucus members to the national capital – for two separate meetings within the space of a few days.

    With some business class airfares costing around $5,000, Labor MPs will firstly fly to Canberra on Thursday where they will vote in a leadership ballot for Anthony Albanese or Bill Shorten.

    They will then return to parliament on Sunday where the winner will be announced. Labor’s new frontbench will then be elected by the Caucus on Monday.
    http://www.news.com.au/national-news/taxpayers-slugged-200000-to-fly-mps-to-canberra-for-alp-leadership-meetings/story-fncynjr2-1226735036208

    So I ask the question, why as a NON-Labor supporter am I footing the bill for them to fly -in and fly-out to election their party leader, double standards with that one. 😯 🙄

  22. Ray Dixon says:

    That’s been asked & answered, James – yesterday. Scroll up.

  23. James says:

    There’s an answer if you could call it that, but not a very satisfactory one I’m afraid.

    So really the bquestion had to be asked again.

  24. Ray Dixon says:

    Okay then, your question is:

    “why as a NON-Labor supporter am I footing the bill for them to fly -in and fly-out to election their party leader”

    To which the answer is (as previously stated): It’s Parliamentary business. I don’t like it either but both sides do it. Yours more than others, btw.

  25. GD says:

    It’s Parliamentary business. I don’t like it either but both sides do it. Yours more than others, btw.

    Well not really, Ray. This is one of those ‘reforms’ that your messiah Rudd brought in. Prior to this the new leader of an opposition party was decided in the party room with minimal expense to the electorate.

    Rudd’s ‘thought bubble’ designed to protect him if he had won the election is another Labor failure inflicting further cost to taxpayers.

    TAXPAYERS will fork out up to $200,000 to fly Labor MPs to Canberra so they can vote for a new parliamentary leader.

    This expense makes pale the claims by the left that the Libs have anything to answer for Tony Abbott’s sporting charity events, which by the way all raise substantial money for charities.

    Can’t say the same for this once again slimy Labor leadership stoush.

    How the hell does that benefit anybody?

  26. Ray Dixon says:

    This expense makes pale the claims by the left that the Libs have anything to answer for Tony Abbott’s sporting charity events, which by the way all raise substantial money for charities.

    Bullsh*t, GD. Regardless of what you think of it, the election of the opposition leader is Parliamentary business. As I said, I don’t agree with the money they’re spending but it’s not a personal trip to fly into Canberra for the vote.

    And it’s Tony Abbott who has something to answer for claiming expenses for participating in sporting events, be they charity or not.

    The amount is not the important factor, it’s the intent, it’s the false claims and false declarations that are the point here. Abbott has tried to dud the system.

    It’s quite obvious, GD, that Abbott is (or was before he became PM) a bloody cheat. A rorter. So are a substantial number of his MPs. Great bunch you voted for there, mate.

  27. Ray Dixon says:

    And here’s more about your precious Coalition MPs rorting the system, GD:

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/big-bucks-for-mps-bollywood-adventure-20131005-2v0wf.html

    Gina Rinehart flew three Coalition MPs from Perth to Hyderabad in a private jet, where they watched the granddaughter of her business partner marry in front of 10,000 guests.

    But Barnaby Joyce, Julie Bishop and Teresa Gambaro collectively claimed more than $12,000 in ”overseas study” allowances to pay for their flights home.

    Read the rest of the article, GD (or not, I don’t care if you read my links). It’s quite obvious that these three dudded the system. Not only did they compromise themselves by accepting a free trip from Rinehart, they then claimed their return airfares back from the taxpayer. All to attend a ‘Boolywood’ style wedding of some rich person in India. What a bloody joke.

  28. GD says:

    It’s quite obvious that these three dudded the system. Not only did they compromise themselves by accepting a free trip from Rinehart, they then claimed their return airfares back from the taxpayer

    Ray, it’s hard to stop laughing at your ludicrous claims. For a start these pollies copped a free ride with Gina to get to India, costing the taxpayer nothing.

    Then, after attending to official business, they asked the government to pay for their rides home. Presumably, their foreign schedules didn’t align with Gina’s business appointments. What were they supposed to do? Wait for Gina to pick them up at the airport?

    Ray, we could go through every Labor claim in the past six years with a fine-toothed comb and as sure as Tony Abbott is now the Prime Minister, you’ll find similar occurrences on your side of the divide.

    Give it up, old son, our side won the election. You don’t have a leg to stand on.

    If the best you and ABC/Fairfax can do is trawl through past expense claims then you really don’t have much to complain about.

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott has excelled with his performance in Indonesia. The boat people problem is diminishing thanks to the Libs’ harder line.

    At the same time, PM Abbott has reset the relationship with Jakarta on asylum-seekers.

    And all this in less than four weeks.

    Thankfully we now have adults in charge of our nation.

  29. Ray Dixon says:

    What were they supposed to do? Wait for Gina to pick them up at the airport?

    No – quite clearly, GD, they should have paid for the trip home themselves. They were not on “official” business – the primary purpose of their trip (as you point out) was to attend a private wedding. It is not acceptable to say, “oh while I was there I also spoke to such & such on business matters”. So what? That was not the primary cause of going to India in the first place and, ergo, it’s not acceptable to claim the return airfare. Nor is it acceptable (or wise) to accept free junkets from mining billionaires. Not in my opinion.

    we could go through every Labor claim in the past six years with a fine-toothed comb and as sure as Tony Abbott is now the Prime Minister, you’ll find similar occurrences on your side of the divide

    Go ahead. I’m sure if you could find any you’d bring them up. And I’m equally sure the Coalition is trying to find some too – the fact they haven’t found any of note (apart from Dreyfus) speaks volumes.

    Face it, GD, your lot are a bunch of thieves.

  30. Iain Hall says:

    Ray, the only reason that Labor is running with this is that they know that on policy they are utterly toothless.
    As GD suggests the people have spoken and booted Labor out into the wilderness, that said the simple fact is that all of the expense claims in question have been with in the rules. Now you can obviously talk, as you do about what you consider to be the “morality” of such claims but that says to me that if you were genuinely concerned about what should or should not be an eligible expense then you would not be arguing this matter from an entirely partisan view point.

  31. Ray Dixon says:

    From the article, GD, this is Barnaby Joyce, the bloke who is effectively the Deputy Deputy Prime Minister:

    Mr Joyce said he was struck by the scale of the 10,000-guest celebration. ”I must admit it was absolutely mind-blowing,” he said.

    After a private jet flew him to Malaysia, Mr Joyce claimed a $5500 flight home for him and his wife out of Kuala Lumpur.

    The day of the flight, Mr Joyce met Malaysian officials, at noon and at 3pm, before flying home at 10pm.

    ”My study period in this country was only of one day’s duration,” Mr Joyce wrote in an obligatory report about his study tour, ”but it was of great assistance in familiarising myself with Malaysia.”

    Mr Joyce summarised his top five findings in the opening page of his report. The first read: ”Malaysia has recently experienced high levels of economic growth which has created urban cities comparable in wealth to cities in developed countries.”

    Mr Joyce’s second major finding was that economic disadvantage in Malaysia remains, particularly in rural areas.

    Mr Joyce defended his use of another $3600 in taxpayer entitlements, used to fly him and his wife to Perth, the day before the couple boarded a private jet to Hyderabad from that city.

    A spokeswoman for the Agriculture Minister told Fairfax Media that Mr Joyce and his wife attended ”a range of official meetings with business people and Senate colleagues” in Perth that day, on which he also claimed $350 in travelling allowance.

    Mr Joyce’s spokeswoman refused to say which senators or business people attended those meetings.

    What a joke. Joyce’s “Malaysia study” could have been copied & pasted out of Wikipedia, it’s so bland and generic. How did that assist Australian taxpayers?

    And his flight to Perth was primarily to connect to Gina’s jet – obviously! The “official meetings” part is clearly a contrived add on.

    Look, GD, take off your Coalition blinkers and admit that these people are inventing reasons for claiming private travel as official business. It is not acceptable for MPs to claim airfare and/or accommodation for going to private functions like weddings no matter how they try to dress it up as “official business”. Likewise it is not acceptable for Tony Abbott to claim the costs of his ‘Sports Rorts’. This is a shambles, GD, and you’re just making excuses for it.

  32. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain, I am not arguing from “an entirely partisan view point”. That’s what you and GD are doing. If this were Labor pollies I’d be saying the same, as I did about Dreyfus. Now please stop trying to discredit me by saying I’m biased when clearly it’s you & GD who are biased on this, not me.

  33. GD says:

    Give it up, Ray.

    Slipper, promoted from Liberal sleaze-bag on the way out, to Labor’s Speaker of the House. Craig Thompson, rorting credit cards, prostitutes et al, yet Labor stands by their man.

    No, Ray. Your mob doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

    btw I’m glad you said, ‘not in my opinion’, because that’s all it is, ‘your opinion’.

    The majority of Australia voted for the Coalition and are thankful that the Coalition are paying back ‘disputed’ allowances, while at the same time getting on with the real job of governing.

    Unlike your lack-lustre, failed mob who preferred to white-wash the scum that made up the Labor seats in parliament.

    If this were Labor pollies I’d be saying the same

    And pigs would fly

    Get a grip, Ray you are the most biased Labor supporter on this blog. Why not stand up and be proud, or are you too ashamed?

  34. Ray Dixon says:

    GD, isn’t it about time you argued the issue instead of playing the man? Personalising your comments (eg “Get a grip”, “you are the most biased Labor supporter” and “are you too ashamed?”) is not presenting an argument and is merely an attempt to belittle and discredit. It’s also a sure indication that you know you’re wrong.

    Slipper is a prime example of Coalition rorters and it’s quite obvious (now) that his style is copybook from the Liberal Party ‘how to rort the public’ mantra. You can’t lump his rorts as indicative of Labor though, as they were all committed over his 20 years as a Liberal MP (although I agree Gillard was an idiot to make him Speaker without checking out his past). Still, you putting him up as an example of Labor rorts is a clear own-goal.

    As for Thomson, I have already told you that I don’t condone that type of activity on both sides. I’m looking at this from a non-partisan point of view – obviously you’re not. Btw, as bad as Thomson was, his rorting wasn’t from the Parliamentary purse. It’s a technical point, but let’s stick to the issue.

    Don’t tell me to “get a grip”, GD, – that’s just a crap way of arguing – how about you address the actual issues raised instead of trying to deflect all the time? Go on, let’s hear your defence of Abbott’s rorts again. And Joyce’s. And Bishop’s. And Morrison’s. And Brandis’, etc, etc. One quarter of the front bench involved in travel rorts – wow, I bet the public would have voted differently if they’d known all that.

  35. GD says:

    I bet the public would have voted differently if they’d known all that.

    No Ray, the public were just glad to get rid of the incompetent, carbon tax, gay marriage, asylum-seeker welfare entitlement attitude that Labor held the rest of Australia ransom to.

    They recognise that the Libs are paying back supposed ‘rorts’ on the system and are happy that the adults are once again in charge.

  36. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    Face it, GD, your lot are a bunch of thieves.

    this is a very partisan statement, as is your insistence that Labor have not been doing precisely the same things that you berate the coalition for. Also you should not forget that if what you complain about was such a big deal then why did the last government not do something about it during the last six years when they were in office? They did nothing because they were content that the vast majority of expense claims have been entirely within the rules and they knew that this is an issue that has a huge potential for “blow back” if the expenditure of all MPs were to come under microscopic scrutiny.

  37. Ray Dixon says:

    GD, you’re an extremist of the right wing and, as such, you don’t speak for the general public on ANY issue, let alone how they might see these latest revelations. As for claiming “the adults are once again in charge”, what makes you keep saying that, GD? Oh, that’s right, you only argue by attempting to belittle those you oppose. Anyway, how “adult” is it for Abbott to talk of the Syrian war as “baddies v baddies”? And for him to use the simple/stupid, childish term “friends” when talking about our relationships with Asian nations like Japan, China and India. It sounds like he’s “friended” them on facebook or something. Face it, Tony Abbott is a real immature “junior” on the international stage, who comes across as wooden, insincere and totally 2-dimensional. He’s the opposite of “adult”.

    Iain, my “thieves” claim was based on the facts as presented, not on any “partisan” view. If you can draw any conclusion other than Abbott, Joyce, etc are robbing the taxpayer with these claims then it is you who is being partisan, not me.

  38. GD says:

    GD, you’re an extremist of the right wing and, as such, you don’t speak for the general public on ANY issue

    Ray, wake up call…the general public don’t follow the didactic left-wing ABC tax-payer funded Marxist bullsh*it.

    The fact that the general public voted for the Coalition is proof of that.

    Give it up, your lot lost.

  39. Ray Dixon says:

    Anyway, I’ve got lawns to do. How about you two try to mount a defendable argument for Barnaby Joyce claiming his “Malaysian study” while I’m absent? Give it a go. While you’re at it, how about you explain how Abbott’s sporting obsession is a taxpayer funded activity again? Oh, for you GD, any attempt at mounting a plausible defence of these Coalition rorts will be a first for you. But do try.

  40. James says:

    Shame on you lot … don’t you have any respect for all things Australian.

    IT’S BATHURST 1000 DAY

  41. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    the only defence that anyone has to make is that the previous government accepted and allowed the expense claims offered frankly the elephant in the room is the simple fact that if there is a problem with the current system it is that the expense claims appear to be paid without question rather than having any decision making process about their validity as would happen in business.
    If you want to complain about any aspect of this matter that is the one that you really should be hot for not moaning about coalition members who have met the requirements of the admittedly sloppy rules but the way that Your team dropped the ball on what was truly necessary reform in this area. Of course they did nothing because they knew that their MPs would not like it and that they knew that they too liked the travel perks in an otherwise difficult and demanding job.

  42. Ray Dixon says:

    That’s not a defence, Iain. It’s not the job of the Govt of the day to check on each and every claim that Opposition MPs make. But it is certainly the job of the Opposition to hold the Govt of the day accountable. Furthermore, I have no doubt that the Coaltion when in Opposition would have looked for and raised any Labor rorting they could find.

    Your argument amounts to saying, “it’s okay if I can get away with it at the time but if it’s picked up later, bad luck, it’s your fault not mine”. Can’t you see the fallacy of that argument? The system relies on honesty, not on checks & balances. And, as we now know, Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce, George Brandis et al were not exactly honest while in Opposition – even though they claimed to be better economic managers! Well, they’re pretty loose with the truth, Iain, and have already proven what I was saying all those years – ie, they are not fit to govern.

  43. Ray Dixon says:

    IT’S BATHURST 1000 DAY”

    The only good thing about Bathurst is it gets all the bogans off the streets.

  44. Ray Dixon says:

    So your defence of Barnaby’s & Tony’s claims – specifically, ie how were they justified on their merits? – is what exactly, Iain and GD? (Although I suppose I’ll have to wait for a decade or so before GD actually attempts to address the real question)

  45. Ray Dixon says:

    Slightly off-topic but Bill Shorten has won the ALP leadership battle with a combined total of 52% of the vote (64% from Caucus, but only 40% from the membership). I dunno what to say except, oh well, it looks like the Coalition will be returned easily in 2016. Shorten is no leader in my opinion and I’m very disappointed with this result. Hopefully he’ll grow into the job but I just can’t see it at the moment. Albo, on the other hand, was ready-made and that’s why I believe he would have been a better choice for taking the fight up to Abbott.

  46. James says:

    The only good thing about Bathurst is it gets all the bogans off the streets

    Well that takes care of you I guess.

    Shorten, well that will make two people as happy as the proverbial “pigs in poo”, you and him.

  47. Ray Dixon says:

    You’re a rather personal little juvenile, James. When will you ever grow up and say something adult?

  48. Iain Hall says:

    Your argument amounts to saying, “it’s okay if I can get away with it at the time but if it’s picked up later, bad luck, it’s your fault not mine”. Can’t you see the fallacy of that argument? The system relies on honesty, not on checks & balances. And, as we now know, Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce, George Brandis et al were not exactly honest while in Opposition – even though they claimed to be better economic managers! Well, they’re pretty loose with the truth, Iain, and have already proven what I was saying all those years – ie, they are not fit to govern.

    No Ray,
    its like this , if you ask ten people to define what is a legitimate expense they will give you more than ten definitions loaded with caveats on their positions, and you simply can not say we will therefore run the payment system on the basis of those many and varied opinions of what is appropriate. Its the stupid “self assessment ” mindset that is just bonkers and to be frank its a load of bureaucratic bullshit that must waste an awful lot of time in an MPs day. Surely it is the job of finance or the treasury to administer the system properly and if they are not questioning claims as they have been made then how can you blame a pollie for thinking that the reasons that they have cited for their claims are acceptable?

    As for this proving that ” they are not fit to govern” it does no such thing because if anything it proves that the party who were running the show for the last six years were not able to manage the parliamentary wages and expenses during that time, just as much as they were not able to run the rest of the nations finances and budgets properly. You have been in business for a while Ray so just imagine how well your wages bill would have been run if you had let every staff member decide what was a fair thing. I reckon you would be broke yeas ago. Sound financial governance needs good management and that is precisely what Labor seem incapable of doing.
    That is management 101 mate.

  49. Iain Hall says:

    Perhaps James does not think that being a Bogan is an altogether bad thing Ray 😉 I know I don’t use it as a term of derision.

  50. Ray Dixon says:

    Surely it is the job of finance or the treasury to administer the system properly and if they are not questioning claims as they have been made then how can you blame a pollie for thinking that the reasons that they have cited for their claims are acceptable?

    No, Iain, claims for Parliamentary business expenses require receipts (which is easy) and a written explanation by the claimant MP. They are accepted on face value so it is entirely an “honesty” system, as it should be. We are not talking about “normal” employees in private business here, Iain. These are elected representatives and they are expected to be honest and accountable. Your attempts to somehow blame Labor for not “managing” the Coaltion’s expense claims is absurd and laughable. The problem here is that Abbott, Joyce, etc have been caught out making false claims yet you somehow say that’s Labor’s fault? What you are actually saying above is that if a politician gets away with a fake claim once, then it’s okay/acceptable for him to do it again. Well, that certainly seems to have been Tony Abbott’s outlook – over & over & over again.

  51. Iain Hall says:

    Ray

    No, Iain, claims for Parliamentary business expenses require receipts (which is easy) and a written explanation by the claimant MP. They are accepted on face value so it is entirely an “honesty” system, as it should be.

    Why should they be accepted at face value?
    If the explanations required for the expenditure are of no consequence to the payment of the monies then why ask for them in the first instance? Further how can it be a question of honesty? The rules are vague and ambiguous and not at all transparent and entirely un-policed to boot. So where is the dishonesty? If the rules say that X is an acceptable reason for a claim then don’t berate any MP for putting in a claim when “x” is invoked.

    You honestly believe in the value of sport (unless its Tony Abbott having a go) and you endorse the huge amounts of money spent on it. I on the other hand think that Professional sport is essentially a waste of time and money and of only very limited social value. There is the foundation for two very different and equally honestly held opinions about an aspect of public life. This may seem a bit too Zen for you Ray but we are both being entirely honest here and neither of us is “wrong” Likewise there need not be a clear and intentional desire to deceive or make illegitimate claims form MPs from either side of politics.

  52. Ray Dixon says:

    They are accepted at face value, Iain, because MPs are not employees per se, and are expected to manage their own business. In private business such travel would be authorised in advance by the employee’s manager but MPs do not need such pre-approvals to conduct their day-to-day business because, in representing their constituents and/or their Ministries/Portfolios they are in effect free agents.

    However (and therefore), the rules for claiming travel expenses are not “vague and ambiguous” and, on the contrary (and because it is an honesty system), they are very clear – the MP must give a report on how the travel expenses that he/she is claiming related to his job. That is the only “rule”. Once again, you are arguing that just because a politician can fudge that rule if he or she desires (like it seems Abbott & Joyce etc have) then there’s no “dishonesty” involved. That’s like saying not handing back the extra $100 a bank teller hands you in error is not dishonest – it’s much the same thing, only worse.

    Btw, I can’t cop your ‘money spent on sports’ analogy or your whole last para, Iain. When Barnaby Joyce adds on a so-called ‘Malaysian Study’ trip to his Gina-sponsored holiday to India just so he can claim the airfare home, I think you can see quite clearly and easily that that is contrived and any such claim invalid. It’s a clear case of bending the rules too far.

  53. Iain Hall says:

    Ray

    They are accepted at face value, Iain, because MPs are not employees per se, and are expected to manage their own business. In private business such travel would be authorised in advance by the employee’s manager but MPs do not need such pre-approvals to conduct their day-to-day business because, in representing their constituents and/or their Ministries/Portfolios they are in effect free agents.

    There is a reason that Business treats travel the way that you describe and that is because it is within the nature of everyone to make the most of such things and by having someone else deciding what is or is not a valid travel expense you provide a check and balance against excess. Further if you are suggesting MPs have ton manage their own affairs then you are undermining your own argument that there is individuals who ore “rorting” the system because a system without proper overview or management can not in any real sense be rorted, although it can get to be very expensive.

    However (and therefore), the rules for claiming travel expenses are not “vague and ambiguous” and, on the contrary (and because it is an honesty system), they are very clear – the MP must give a report on how the travel expenses that he/she is claiming related to his job. That is the only “rule”. Once again, you are arguing that just because a politician can fudge that rule if he or she desires (like it seems Abbott & Joyce etc have) then there’s no “dishonesty” involved. That’s like saying not handing back the extra $100 a bank teller hands you in error is not dishonest – it’s much the same thing, only worse.

    Well by that anything will be OK as long as the correct incantation in invoked in writing. But you seem to be labouring under the misapprehension the in this internet and media age that MPs have a private life that is entirely separate form their public life. That is manifestly untrue and as I have said firm the outset they are on the clock 24/7, every thing they do relates to their office even weddings attended are networking opportunities.

    Btw, I can’t cop your ‘money spent on sports’ analogy or your whole last para, Iain. When Barnaby Joyce adds on a so-called ‘Malaysian Study’ trip to his Gina-sponsored holiday to India just so he can claim the airfare home, I think you can see quite clearly and easily that that is contrived and any such claim invalid. It’s a clear case of bending the rules too far.

    MPs are never off the clock Ray and as the rules that you are championing are clearly VERY broad and only require that a member has to provide the correct incantation in writing to make a payment valid where is the problem? You can bet London to a brick that their conversations were not all about popular culture and that no politics were discussed.

  54. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain, it is not “within the nature of everyone to make the most of such things”, it’s only within the nature of some people (like Abbott & Joyce and Peter Slipper) to habitually “make the most” of the system by rorting it. And the “checks & balances” actually do exist in that they are in the public domain, as all expenses claimed are accessible by the public including the Opposition and the media. The very fact we’re hearing about this now shows that those pollies who cheat will get found out and will be judged accordingly.

    As for your “always on the clock” argument, please, we’ve been there. It is simply not the case that “everything” a MP does is part of his parliamentary duty and they do indeed have private excursions that should be met from their own pocket. Otherwise, according to your argument, every single expense incurred by a MP, (right down to socks, jocks & toilet paper) would be claimable. It’s not.

    Finally, Iain, your argument and stance on this effectively exonerates Peter Slipper for all his Cab Charge rorts, despite all your criticisms of him after he left the party. Are you going to retract that now? You can’t have it both ways.

  55. Iain Hall says:

    Ray

    Iain, it is not “within the nature of everyone to make the most of such things”, it’s only within the nature of some people (like Abbott & Joyce and Peter Slipper) to habitually “make the most” of the system by rorting it. And the “checks & balances” actually do exist in that they are in the public domain, as all expenses claimed are accessible by the public including the Opposition and the media. The very fact we’re hearing about this now shows that those pollies who cheat will get found out and will be judged accordingly.

    I admimre your faith in human natiure and teh lofty standards taht you expect however the best way to ensure such things is to have a very well managed system, or as I have suggested many times drop the whole complicated system to something more simple that just allows a fixed ampunt for MP’s travel that thy can use entirely at they own discretion and that they can keep nas a cash mony bonus if they don’t ise it. this teh incentivbe will be to frugality rather than excess. That said there is still the clear p[roblem of accurately definiing what is or is not a legitiamate expense and its clear to the other cometators here taht you have not made the case for your definition.

    For instance whay should the governenment jet be used so that Gillard and Swann could go to the AFL and NRL grand finals? Under your own suggested standards such things are “personal leasure activities” yet you are implictly endorsing the 20K exoenditure to fund a trip in the government jet. How can that be justified in your mind?

    As for your “always on the clock” argument, please, we’ve been there. It is simply not the case that “everything” a MP does is part of his parliamentary duty and they do indeed have private excursions that should be met from their own pocket. Otherwise, according to your argument, every single expense incurred by a MP, (right down to socks, jocks & toilet paper) would be claimable. It’s not.

    When you work very long hoursand you are never out of reach of your phone even when you are not on it doing parlimentary business how can you say that anyone in a high powered job is ever off the clock? if not doing actaul “work” you are still effectively “on standby” at the very least even when on the dunny so It would be reasonable to claim for dunny paper as well… 😉

    Finally, Iain, your argument and stance on this effectively exonerates Peter Slipper for all his Cab Charge rorts, despite all your criticisms of him after he left the party. Are you going to retract that now? You can’t have it both ways.

    Well not really because on more than oone ocassion he miss reported his cab charge exoenses to make them appear legitimate when they were clearly for an entirely self serving winnery crawl, on top of that he had form for doing this sort of thing.

  56. Ray Dixon says:

    For God’s sake, Iain, the vast majority of people are honest and that’s why only a few MPs get caught out cheating the system (as Abbott, Joyce, etc have).

    I have already given you the example of the bank teller giving you an extra $100 in error – most people would hand it back – so I”ll give you another:

    At many country golf courses there is no one to collect the fees midweek so what they have is a ‘honesty box’ where you fill in the coupon, tear off your own receipt and then deposit the coupon and green fees in a locked box. By your standards (argument) you are suggesting that nearly “everyone” would cheat and that (as the system is unsupervised and unchecked) it’s perfectly okay to not pay the fees. According to you, most people wouldn’t pay but guess what? Most do. You are condoning dishonesty, Iain.

    And I certainly have “made the case” for what defines a legitimate claim – it’s when the PRIMARY PURPOSE of the trip is parliamentary business. It’s not when the primary purpose is a wedding (or to participate in some sports event) and where the “business” is a secondary add-on to justify the claim. Even a high school student could understand the distinction – it’s pretty clear. Even a high school student could see that Barnaby Joyce’s so-called ‘Malaysian Study’ was made up to suit the claim.

    As for you bringing up the PM & Deputy PMs use of the govt jet (again!), I’ve already covered that. Use of the VIP jet does not involve lodging any claims for cash refund, Iain. It is a perk of office just like the use of a company car for those in private business. Abbott used it to also attend the AFL GF this year and so he should. It is not claiming an entitlement that you are not entitled to and you are just muddying the waters by throwing it in. Apples & oranges, Iain. I repeat: when you go up to the accountant or cashier and lodge a dodgy claim for “expenses” incurred you are crossing the line, but when you use the company vehicle for private use you are not crossing any lines. You are not cheating and you are not making a false claim – because the company vehicle for private use is part of your legal entitlement.

    As for your Slipper explanation, it’s rather curious how you claim Slipper misreported a cab charge without any attempt by you to justify, for instance, Barnaby Joyce’s so-called ‘Malaysian Study’ report. If that’s not “misreporting” then what is?

    Do us a favour, Iain, and come up with some new defence of Abbott & Joyce etc – because just using your old ones ain’t cutting it. Come on, defend Joyce’s ‘Malaysian Study’ on its merits – give it a go.

  57. James says:

    I guess in your brain, no mind, oh what ever you’ve got, it would have been alright if Barnaby had gone for a skiing weekend with Dreyfus, instead of incorporating into his, partly privately funded journey, a study component, and then returning and addressing gatherings on his findings. He could have given lectures on the Dreyfus guide to falling flat on your face in the snow.

    So Ray, you’d be the one and only person in Australia who’s never ever tried to short-change the Tax man too I suppose. Honest Ray they call him, innocence personified.

  58. Ray Dixon says:

    I’ve already said (3 or 4 times) that I think Dreyfus should be sacked for his skiing rort. For Christ’s sake, James, get off your personalised crap and grow up.

  59. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    A simple question; what do you think constitutes “study” in the context of political travel?

  60. Ray Dixon says:

    I’m more interested in what you think constitutes “study” in the context of Barnaby Joyce’s so-called Malaysian study. I’ve given you the details of his report earlier in this thread (which were about as comprehensive as a Wikipedia overview) so I don’t have to say anything other than that doesn’t constitute a “study” in my opinion. Over to you.

  61. Iain Hall says:

    Well here is the report he wrote for the parliament: and reading it I fail to see how you can construe it as a “rort” he met with Malaysian officials, looked at things pertaining to his portfolio and the possibilities for future trade as a potential (at the time) agriculture minister he would have been net working…

    Certainly looks more valid than the Labor guy who went to watch the tour de France on the pretext of studying bicycle infrastructure….

  62. GD says:

    Certainly looks more valid than the Labor guy who went to watch the tour de France on the pretext of studying bicycle infrastructure….

    That was the ‘ministre du changement climatique’, to give him his Gallic title. At least he bit the bullet on his ridiculous climate alarmist portfolio.

    On the other hand, NBN genius, Stephen ‘Spilt Milk’ Conroy is in the United States studying, guess what, the internet. He is on the government teat for another three years despite admitting that he got the NBN wrong. ‘Overly ambitious’ were his words to explain away the obscene cost blow-outs.

    Also languishing in parliament, holding out for his pension, but not shying away from snuffling in the perks trough is ‘the world’s greatest treasurer’, Wayne Swan. He’s currently in New York on a study tour.

    Economics?

    Bit late, old son…

  63. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain, that ‘report’ is a piece that any student could write by accessing the Internet and I’d suggest it was written for Joyce by one of his staffers. What a load of bollocks.

  64. GD says:

    And, Ray, your reply to my comment just above yours, about the rorting labor ministers?

  65. Iain Hall says:


    Ray

    Iain, that ‘report’ is a piece that any student could write by accessing the Internet and I’d suggest it was written for Joyce by one of his staffers. What a load of bollocks.

    What do you expect? it is intended to show, as it does, that Joyce has jumped through the necessary hoops to qualify for the allowance, there is no requirement that it have either literary or academic excellence in itself just that it report the required activities , which it does. So it nicely proves that your claim that Joyce was “rorting” is proven to be wrong. He did precisely what was required and totally met the rules.

  66. Ray Dixon says:

    And, Ray, your reply to my comment just above yours, about the rorting labor ministers?

    What rorts? You didn’t make any allegations or ask me any questions so don’t expect me to reply, GD.

  67. Ray Dixon says:

    I fail to see how you can construe it as a “rort” (Barnaby Joyce) met with Malaysian officials, looked at things pertaining to his portfolio and the possibilities for future trade as a potential (at the time) agriculture minister he would have been net working…

    Okay, Iain, it’s clear you’ll turn a blind eye to any Coaltion MP rorting the TA system (except Slipper of course). Here’s the quick(er) summary of Joyce’s so-called Malaysian study:

    I was invited by billionaire mining magnate Gina ‘Piggy’ Rinehart to join her on her private jet and fly off to a mind-blowing wedding party in India. The temptation of free booze and other substances plus the chance to rub shoulders with so many rich people was too good to turn down. The only problem was, Gina wasn’t offerring to fly me home, so I had to come up with some way of claiming the (extraordinarily expensive first class) airfares home for my wife and I. Oh, I also had to find a way to claim the (extrordinarily expensive first class) airfares over to Perth to connect with Gina’s jet.

    So here’s the rub:

    1. We flew over to Perth and met with a couple of no-hoper WA Coalition Senators just before boarding Gina’s plane. Ergo, I claim that airfare to Perth.
    2. On the way back home I decided to break my trip at Kuala Lumpur for 10 hours, have two brief meetings with some nobody Malay officials and call it a “study”. See report compiled by my staff from browsing the Internet. Ergo I claim both the airfares from India to KL and KL to Sydney.

    Total claim, $12,000. Cough up.

    Oh, why did I take my wife? Well, someone had to carry the bags.

    And that, I suggest, is much closer to the truth than what Barnaby put in his report.

  68. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    What have you got to say about Swan’s study tour to New York, Or Rudds recent visit to the same city, They may have been mighty once but now they are just chip wrappers and yet I bet London to a brick that they travelled first class and claimed for the air fares…

  69. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain, are you claiming Rudd’s & Swan’s trips were dubious too? No one else is – not even the Government – not yet. When (and if) they become an issue, then I’ll respond to your question. And if they are equally dubious I’ll say so. Until then you’re just throwing in a red herring to divert attention away from Abbott, Joyce etc.

    GD, I honestly have no idea how your brain works.

  70. James says:

    GD, I honestly have no idea how your brain works.

    Bit of the OLD POT calling the kettle black in that lot.

  71. Iain Hall says:

    Actually Ray its you who is being one eyed about what constitutes a reasonable reason to claim a travel allowance. So all that I am saying is that you should apply the standards to those in your beloved Labor Party and I am suggesting that they too would fail to come up to the standard that you are trying to set here.

  72. Ray Dixon says:

    I certainly DO apply the same standards to the ALP, Iain. I’ve repeatedly condemned Dreyfus for his $400 skiing rort. And, if you can come up with something tangible that discredits any other Labor MP for making TA claims as dodgy as the claims currently in the spotlight – like claims for attending weddings and participating in sports events – I’ll condemn them too.

    Don’t try to call double standards on me here, Iain – I don’t have any. In my opinion any MP (from any party) who rorts the system a la Abbott & Joyce (and Brandis the hypocrite) do, is persona-non-grata and has no place in our Parliament. Obviously you’re a lot less bipartisan on this than I am.

    James, shut the f*ck up you moron.

  73. Richard Ryan says:

    IN response to travel rorts, Mr Abbott has already answered the question way back in 2003 when he was Minister for Workplace Relations. His response, “There are some things the public has no particular right to know” as reported by Margo Kingston, Sydney Morning Herald, September 5, 2003.For the record I would like to see Abbott burnt at the stake, to repent for his sins, for being a climate change denier, along with Andrew Bolt, who is also a denier, a Stolen Generation Denier.

  74. Richard Ryan says:

    I liken James to a tin of baked beans, wondering which bean caused the fart.

  75. GD says:

    I certainly DO apply the same standards to the ALP, Iain. I’ve repeatedly condemned Dreyfus for his $400 skiing rort

    Well no Ray, it wasn’t $400 it was $2,950 or thereabouts. But you prefer not to mention that, ‘cos it makes Labor look bad.

    Given that he’s now clearly stated that he should not have claimed the travel allowance as he had gone skiing that weekend, it also calls into question each of the other expenditures, therefore suggesting that the following may need to be repaid:
    – Travel allowance ($466);
    – Hire car ($408)
    – Travel for 3x family members ($1905)
    – Family car costs ($195)

    That’s about $2,974 and comes on top of what he seems to have similarly done back in February 2011.

    The net benefit to the Australian public – zero.

    Tony Abbott on the other hand participated in public sporting events which have helped highlight the benefits of physical fitness and at the same time helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for nominated charities.

    Labor obviously agreed with this idea with the Minister for Youth and Child Care, Kate Ellis promoting her own version of body image.

    However, Ellis’ initiative fell flat, while Tony Abbott’s bike rides and iron man competitions have gone from strength to strength, raising funds for charity and awareness of healthy lifestyles.

    As it stands, Kate Ellis’ government funded body image program is another failed idea by Labor, costing more than a couple of million dollars.

    Yet Fairfax, the ABC and Labor are complaining about Tony Abbott claiming small expenses for participating in community events which raise far more funds for charity.

    Labor, and their ABC, are bereft of common sense and consumed with hatred for our democratically elected government.

  76. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    as you seem to be defending Slipper perhaps I should lay out the reasons that his actions are far from defensible courtesy of Janet Albrichtson:

    What a shame Cassidy did not ask the most obvious question: Isn’t there a fundamental difference between the current brouhaha over MPs’ entitlements and your situation? That, unlike other MPs, you have been charged with committing a criminal offence involving dishonesty?

    After all, Slipper has been charged with three counts of the “general dishonesty” provisions of section 135.1 (5) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). The statement of facts from the Australian Federal Police sets out the nature of the dishonesty: in January 2010, Slipper and a male associate travelled for more than four hours to six vineyards around Murrumbateman, NSW, in a hire car fitted with a GPS system tracking the car’s movements.

    The AFP claims that, on returning to Canberra, Slipper asked the driver: “Could we process this manually and break up the payment, putting it down as suburb to suburb, so it’s processed easier?” The driver complied and manual Cabcharge documents were duly marked Parliament House to suburbs, suburbs to Parliament House, suburbs to suburbs, and so on. The AFP claims Slipper knowingly tried to disguise the payments then and on two further occasions in April and June of 2010. Slipper denies the charges.

    Cassidy could also have asked Slipper about his history of extravagant expenses claims, or about the $20,000 in expenses he has paid back. Armed with the Department of Finance’s 2010 Report on Parliamentarians’ Expenditure on Entitlements for the period July 1 to December 31, 2009, Cassidy could have asked: what parliamentary or electoral business did Slipper conduct during a 15-day period between July 11 and August 12, 2009, when Slipper claimed almost $6000 for taxis?

    Another question: Did Slipper consider it extravagant to spend $495,333 of taxpayers’ money during the six months to December 2009 – including more than $400,000 on running his office, $16,038 in taxi fares, $3138 for a Com Car, and $8657 for private vehicle expenses? Slipper’s six-month bill exceeded those of then treasurer Wayne Swan and opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, and was only outdone by prime minister Kevin Rudd, who clocked up $1.16 million in expenses.

    Instead, Slipper used his time on Insiders to repeat the findings of Federal Court judge Steven Rares that the sexual harassment case brought by former staffer James Ashby was dismissed as having been motivated by political reasons. Fair enough. The manner in which Slipper was pursued reeked of a hard and fast game of politics and the plaintiff and his lawyers were duly admonished.

    That said, it might have been pertinent to ask Slipper about his own hard and fast game of politics. Here’s the most critical question: Mr Slipper, is it possible that your own actions have tarnished your reputation, stymied your political career and, ultimately, brought it to an ignoble end?
    – See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/our-abc-presents-the-slipper-delusion/story-e6frg7bo-1226740546083#sthash.i9XE9Gtv.dpuf

  77. Ray Dixon says:

    GD, I didn’t mention the rest of Dreyfus’ expenses that he claimed because I don’t read Andrew Bolt’s blog, which seems to be the only place it’s mentioned. I don’t know whether Bolt (or more correctly, ‘reader Mark’) is right in his analysis that Dreyfus should have repaid more, but if he is then I reiterate what I’ve already said – Dreyfus should be sacked and/or charged. How much clearer can I get? Now when are you going to admit that Abbott’s & Joyce’s claims (and the rest) are as dodgy as all hell? You haven’t mounted any plausible defence and, instead, you’ve just pointed the finger elsewhere. Well, isn’t it about time you manned up?

    Iain, where have I ever said that I am defending Slipper? What on earth gave you that ridiculous idea? This is just more diversion from you and, quite frankly, it’s rather piss weak.

  78. James says:

    I think Raymond, comes pretty close to constituting a Slippery defence;

    your argument and stance on this effectively exonerates Peter Slipper for all his Cab Charge rorts

  79. Ray Dixon says:

    You really do have a problem with comprehension, don’t you, James? That statement means that I think Iain is effectively exonerating Slipper based on his ‘anything goes/always on the clock’ argument, which incidentally, I disagree with. It says nothing whatsoever about what I think of Slipper.

  80. Ray Dixon says:

    And yet another Coalition MP rorting travel allowances:

    http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/1844932/don-randall-dodges-questions-over-expense-claims-for-trip-to-cairns/?cs=12

    A Liberal MP and member of the parliamentary committee that oversees MPs’ privileges and interests has spent more than $10,000 on questionable travel and billed taxpayers for about $2500 on books that bear no obvious relation to his job, Fairfax Media can reveal.

    Don Randall, who once described Cheryl Kernot as having the ”morals of an alley cat on heat” and Tasmania as a ”leech on the teat” of the Australian economy, has refused to answer questions about his own expense claims, which include billing taxpayers for travel that appears to be linked to his Cairns investment property.

    Mr Randall has also spent thousands on books including children’s cookbooks, a guide to Broadway musicals and multiple copies of Guinness World Records, despite them seemingly failing to fulfil the requirement of relating to ”parliamentary, electorate or official business”.

    After being given a day to consider a number of written questions from Fairfax Media, Mr Randall declined to respond.

    In November 2012 the West Australian MP and a family member flew to Cairns for an overnight stay. Mr Randall claimed the $5259 trip was “electorate business”, despite it being 3446 kilometres from his electorate of Canning.

    A week after returning from Cairns, on November 26, Mr Randall updated his pecuniary interests register, saying: “My wife and I have taken possession of the house at the Cairns location. We intend to rent the house as an investment.”

    The pair, who own three properties, bought land in the Cairns suburb of Trinity Park in 2007 for $148,000 but only began building on the property in mid-2012. The four-bedroom house is rented out for $410 a week.

    Fairfax Media gave Mr Randall the opportunity to explain how his trip to Cairns involved any legitimate “electorate business” but he declined to comment. He also declined the opportunity to deny the trip was associated with his investment property.

    There’s more, but you get the picture. Rorting travel allowances & expenses seems endemic within the Coaltion ranks. You blind-faith supporters can defend this scummy mob as much as you like but there’s no doubt that in Tony Abbott’s Coalition it’s all about self-interest and ‘anything goes’ when it comes to conducting private business on the public purse.

    These people are not fit to govern and the mob who for so long pointed the finger at Labor’s so-called mismanagement have been found out to be a bunch of fraudsters, starting at the very top with Tony Abbott himself.

    As they say, “The fish rots from the head down”.

  81. Iain Hall says:

    Ray

    You are getting D E S P E R A T E mate and so utterly caught up in the ALP propaganda that its very sad indeed.

    As extravagant as that all sounds according to the Border Mail I see no suggestion that any of those expenses are outside the rules.
    Can you show that they are?
    I doubt it.

  82. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain, it is not “ALP propaganda” and I am not “desperate”. The story speaks for itself – Randall’s trip to Cairns clearly appears to be linked to his investment property, not to Parliamentary business. If it’s not then he can say so and explain exactly what it was about – so far he’s declined. If he refunds the money (which seems likely) you are going to need to retract your accusations against me and acknowledge it was a rort. Will you do that, Iain?

  83. Ray Dixon says:

    Oh, and as for you “ALP propaganda” claim, Iain, this is from the same Age article:

    This story was sparked by a reader tip-off.
    Help Fairfax Media continue its investigation into politicians’ expenses here.
    Email: expenses@fairfaxmedia.com.au

    Poll: Should Don Randall be sacked if it’s confirmed he flew to Cairns to take possession of his investment property at public expense?

    View results:
    Yes 97%
    No 3%
    Total votes: 12537.

    It’s a Fairfax inquiry, Iain, not an ALP one. It looks like you already owe an apology. It also looks like you’re in a rather small minority who excuse this bludger.

  84. Ray Dixon says:

    And more still about this Coalition bludger, from the ABC:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-16/questions-over-don-randall-expense-claims/5026388

    Taxpayers also paid for the Coalition MP and his wife to fly from Perth to Melbourne on Saturday September 15 last year at a cost of $5,203, for what a Department of Finance document says was “sittings of Parliament”.

    Parliament sat last year the week before that date and resumed on Monday September 17.

    That Saturday night, the West Coast Eagles faced Collingwood in Melbourne in an AFL semi-final.

    The ABC has asked Mr Randall’s office whether he attended the game, whether the money is within entitlements and, if not, whether he intends to repay it.

    A spokeswoman for Mr Randall says the MP has “no comment”.

    The ABC has asked via email whether the money is within entitlements and whether he intends to repay it.

    When will you get out of your Coalition blind faith support mode and acknowledge that, within their ranks, the Coalition has some very shifty characters who are dudding the system, Iain? Come on, it’s obvious that this stuff is not on the level.

  85. James says:

    Fairfax and ALP, same thing. What would the idiots reading some trash publication like the, what, Border Mail know anyway.

    That’s the same Border Mail that sanctioned one Cathy McGowan.

    McGowan has already been breaking Parliamentary rules, taking Krudd style selfies of herself on the floor of the house.

    Great start Cathy, wonder when she’ll get her snout in the trough too.

  86. Ray Dixon says:

    You wouldn’t ‘shoot the messenger’ if it were News Ltd, James. And FYI the BM is a Fairfax-owned CONSERVATIVE paper and that story was lifted from The Age. So what if The Age are not ‘anti Labor’ to the same degree News Ltd are – the story speaks for itself or do you think they made it up? You never address the actual issues, do you James?

    (As for McGowan’s ‘selfie’ … so what?)

  87. James says:

    (As for McGowan’s ‘selfie’ … so what?)

    Well Ray, you’re always the one who wants to set the moral highroad for everyone else. She’s already broken a Parliament rule, so who knows what your princess will get up to next. That’s so what.

  88. Ray Dixon says:

    She’d have to do a lot more than that to match her predecessor’s appalling Parliamentary record – Sophie holds the record for being kicked out of the House by the Speaker – and if she does I’ll be the first to call her on it. Now do go back to kindergarten, James, they’re playing with plasticine and they need you.

  89. Iain Hall says:

    I just heard that all of the books that your citation complains about were bought as gifts/ prizes for schools and community groups with in his electorate, something that I expect every member does precisely the same thing.
    as for the trip, well it does seem extravagant/excessive but also it seems to have been well within the rules as they stood at the time. If you were not being so partisan then we might find agreement in suggesting that the entitlement should be administered with a bit more rigor, but you are being very partisan about it …

    Oh, and as for you “ALP propaganda” claim, Iain, this is from the same Age article:

    That does not prove that it has not been generated by the ALP or one of its fellow travelers.
    Anyway you and the minions of the left can whine and bleat about such nonsense and meanwhile the coalition will get on with the more important job of running the country, properly .

  90. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain, you wrote this whole post along partisan lines and you’ve argued that way throughout. I am not being partisan here, you are. I have condemned Dreyfus for his rort and I’ll condemn any other Labor MP who makes claims as dodgy as that one or those by Randall (and Abbott, Joyce, etc). I think this scandal involving Coalition rorts while in Opposition has real legs and you haven’t heard the last of it.

  91. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    its nothing of consequence at all and as I have said from the beginning if you think that its reasonable that the rules (pertaining to travel funding) for MP’s should be more controlled/restricted then I tend to agree but to keep whining about coalition MPs using their allowances as the rules clearly allow is just desperate nonsense.

    Any way my topic for today should be something to put you on the back foot, yep its going to be all about that amazingly candid speech just made by Nicola Roxon about how dysfunctional Labor were in government.

  92. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain, you certainly thought MPs rorting expenses was “of consequence” when it was Peter Slipper doing it and when it suited you to take that view (ie when he’d defected from the Liberal Party and given Gillard an effective new number). Okay, we have done this to death but it will rear its head again because one thing is for certain: Rorting & Coalition MPs go hand-in-hand, you can’t have one without the other.

  93. Ray Dixon says:

    Oh look, Coalition MP Don Randall has effectively admitted to rorting the taxpayer on his $5,000 claim for travelling to Cairns to take possession of a private property on ‘electoral business’. What a pig:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-17/call-for-randall-to-resign/5029032

    The West Australian Liberal MP Don Randall has announced he will repay the travel expenses he claimed for a trip to Cairns last year.

    Mr Randall has come under scrutiny for spending taxpayers’ money on travel to the Far North Queensland town with his wife in November on what he said was “electorate business”.

    A week later, he disclosed that he’d taken possession of an investment property in Cairns.

    The cost of the airfares and travel allowance was more than $5,000.

    Mr Randall has issued a statement saying that as the Finance Department cannot provide him with definitive advice about the claim, he has decided to repay the costs to ensure the right thing is done by the taxpayer.

    Meanwhile, taxpayers also paid for the Coalition MP and his wife to fly from Perth to Melbourne on Saturday September 15 last year at a cost of $5,203, for what a Department of Finance document says was “sittings of Parliament”.

    Parliament sat last year the week before that date and resumed on Monday September 17.

    That Saturday night, the West Coast Eagles faced Collingwood in Melbourne in an AFL semi-final.

    Liberal MP Rob Johnson says the situation is deplorable and Mr Randall should face consequences.

    “He should either resign from Parliament and do the honourable thing, or Tony Abbott should show leadership I think here and sack him,” he said.

    “For him to be on the privileges committee, which oversees standards of members of Parliament, is the height of hypocrisy. Don Randall should go.”

    I hate to say “I told you” but …………………. !

  94. Richard Ryan says:

    Tony Abbott does not have the look of a Prime Minister,more like the looks of a constipated greyhound, maybe he needs more fiber in his diet.

  95. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    while there are a whole swag of lefties desperately trawling though coalition travel expenses I doubt that there is an equal number of seekers of indiscretions from Labor MPs. If there were I think that they would find just as many form those on your side of the house. As I have repeatedly said its in human nature to make the most of things like travel warrants and don’t ever kid yourself that Labor people are in any sense “better” or more morally virtuous.

    That said there is still no suggestion that the claim from Randall was outside the rules even though it clearly stretched them pretty far.That he has now paid the money back is a good thing for teh public purse that to me demonstrates the need for better oversight from the department of finance of such claims in the first instance, something that you keep insisting is unnecessary.

  96. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain, I am absolutely certain that the Coalition would have people crawling all over ALP MP’s expenses too. Of course they would. They haven’t found much, have they?

    As for putting the onus on the Dept of Finance, what do you suggest they do, a forensic audit on every claim? That’s just another way of diverting blame, Iain, bur seeing that you insist that’s where the fault lies (and not with the cheats like Randall) then what are your specific suggestions for the Dept of Finance?

  97. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    They are not even trying mate, why would they? Their clear strategy here is to focus on governing the country and the sort of nonsense that you are so delighted by is pure electioneering.
    Of course the department of finance is obliged to manage properly the public monies it distributes to MPs and even only a very cursory testing of all claims would be required to ensure that all claims are within the rules and are justifiable to a cynical public. However you still think that no oversight is necessary because MP’s are “not employees”. Well that sort of thinking is the real scandal here and for that you can thank the ALP who have been running finance for the last two terms of the Parliament.

  98. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain, I asked you to be “specific” on how you think the Dept should monitor MPs claims but your answer is just to blame Labor? Look, you can’t have a bureaucracy checking up on each and every claim – how would they do it? And yes, I think the way it’s done now is dead right – it relies on honesty and the accesibility of such claims by the media and the general public. In other words, those (like Randall) who submit dubious claims are hung out to dry in the public arena, and so they should be.

  99. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    Well some minion in the finance department should look at the forms submitted by MPs when they are claiming expenses and see if the information there in makes sense. If it does then that is fine but if it looks questionable, then the minion should question the claimant and ask them to further justify the claim or withdraw it.
    All that it would take is one person tasked to keep track of the expenses of the two hundred odd Mps and Senators a good accountant or HR person could do it at a very reasonable cost to the tax payers.

  100. Ray Dixon says:

    Randall wrote “electorate expenses” for his $5,000+ Cairns trip and nothing else. In that case, it’s not the job of some petty public servant (or even a senior one) to query him on the precise details. These are members of our Parliament and there is (rightfully) a presumption they will only claim for legitimate business-related expenses. They are not employees. You can’t have some clerk querying MPs, Iain, it’s that simple. Besides, as I keep pointing out, the system actually works because the dudders like Randall get caught out in the public domain. I guess the PS looks at it that way too. There’s no better judge than that.

  101. Iain Hall says:

    Why not query such things Ray because it strikes me as being a very poor system that has no checks or proper management, While it may not now be the job of a public servant to query such things you asked me how the system could be made more immune to misuse of allowances and all you can come back with is some nonsense about MP’s being above being questioned. Frankly I doubt that any would complain about any sort of mechanism that would judge their claims fairly.
    That any MPs have their claims judged harshly by the public as they are have been of late is no proof of the system working, rather it is the exact opposite. It shows that the system is broken because a better system would not make it so easy for MP’s to err in the claims for expenses that they make.
    Finally you need to get over the rather strange idea that MPs are something morally superior to those who elect them; they are just ordinary men and women who happen to have a particular job to do and as such there is no reason to think that they are any less likely to have a cavalier attitude to the endless form filling required by their office than anyone else on the street. Thus they need to have the same checks and balances upon their behaviour as the rest of us.

  102. Ray Dixon says:

    Okay, I’ll go with the fully monitored system with full investigations by public servants then, Iain, seeing that you seem convinced that’s the only way to make MPs like: Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce, George Brandis, Scott Morrison, Don Randall and a few other Coalition MPS act with honesty and integrity.

    I should have remembered from the outset that: YOU CAN NEVER TRUST A LIBERAL (or a Nat).

  103. GD says:

    YOU CAN NEVER TRUST A LIBERAL (or a Nat).

    But you can trust a Labor politician to lead you astray, like Spilt Milk Conroy with his on ‘back of a coaster’, uncosted NBN which is continuing to cost us millions unless the Libs pull it back to reality. Conroy has now admitted that he got it wrong.

    You can trust Penny Wong to lie to us about supposed surpluses when Labor had no intention or wherewithal to produce a surplus. In fact, to date she, or her mishandling of her portfolio, has cost us $106 billion.

    Joolia didn’t help much with her ‘carbon tax that we will never have’.

    And meanwhile the leftist media and rusted on Laborites are fuming over thousands of dollars that the Libs may have overspent or inappropriately spent. Thousands, not one million, not millions, not billions, but mere expense account thousands. That is all Labor has got against this new government.

    This new government that has already repaired relations with Indonesia and slowed the flow of illegal boat-people.

    Meanwhile Labor has cost the country well over $260 billion with nothing to show for it.

    Trust is a big word, Ray, but I know who I’d trust more and it’s not the imposters who have held the country to ransom over the carbon tax and squandered our nation’s finances, while achieving little or nothing else.

  104. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    All that is needed is that the person who holds the purse strings to make sure that the claims meet the basic requirements of the rules,even just a perfunctory examination will remove 99% of questionable claims and enable the public to have faith that our MPs (of all parties because none are blameless on this issue)are doing the right thing.

  105. Ray Dixon says:

    Get off your high horse, GD, and compare apples with apples. Your criticisms/opinion of Labor’s management of the country’s affairs is a completely different matter and is not a defence of these allegations.

    I’ll point the finger at any MP who rips off the taxpayer over his/her personal expenses and it is also not a defence to say “it’s only $thousands”. Oh, sorry Mr & Mrs Pensioner, you can’t have an extra $1 from me but I can take $thousands from you. How does that sound?

    Slipper is facing the very real prospect of jail time for an amount that’s a little over $1,000 (courtesy of the hypocrite Brandis referring him to the AFP it seems) so trying to play this down as trivial is a mighty big own goal by you.

  106. Iain Hall says:

    I know this subject has been done to death here but I feel that sharing Amanda Vanstone’s piece from the current Age will be useful:

    There is no surer way to get people riled than raising the apparent misuse of parliamentary entitlements. Misuse makes people mad, and rightly so.

    Tony Abbott is right to say that if there is any doubt, the money should be repaid. Perhaps he could have added that if there is any doubt, don’t claim. He is also right to not make this a burning issue, because it isn’t. There have been mistakes, errors of judgment – call them what you will – but they are not the norm.

    He could, however, have made it clear that the door was always open for any sensible reforms.
    Advertisement

    The trouble with people who rort any system is they give everyone a bad name. I was there in the days when senator Mal Colston took rorting to new levels. The story was that he flew to Perth, ate lunch in the lounge and returned on the same plane. The whole purpose was to acquire frequent-flyer points to be exchanged for a wide range of things, such as a television or binoculars.

    The result of that scandal was that more public service staff were allocated to check everything everyone did. I’m not sure the taxpayer was better off with all the extra scrutiny. Most people don’t cheat, and most rarely make a mistake, so all that extra work would not find much.

    The climate after that was toxic. I can remember being phoned in South Korea by an anxious staff member to be told that she was incredibly sorry but there was a mistake in one of my claims. I was horrified. Now I would be judged as a cheat along with Colston, just for one lousy mistake.

    What I remember most clearly was thinking I might throw up, then and there, in the gutter, in a public place. Then I heard the detail. I had under claimed for one night. At the time, I couldn’t even laugh about it.

    It’s an extraordinarily difficult area to clearly regulate. Take travel, for example. The people who make Australia work are out there all around the country. Things that are good and worth implementing elsewhere are spread around Australia, as are things that need fixing.

    We want our politicians out and about seeing these things. We want them talking to the people who make Australia work, and talking to the people for whom it is not working as well as it should.

    Some years ago there was a review of entitlements by a very experienced and respected public servant. Apparently it recommended publication of parliamentary claims. That would be a good thing. My grandfather used to say, ”Never do or say anything you wouldn’t like to see in the Sunday papers”. If all politicians’ claims were published, it may well have a salutary effect. Transparency can cure many ills. Tony Abbott would do well to take a fresh look at that report.

    The current requirement to nominate whether it is electorate, parliamentary or other business seems a bit vague. It could be improved by adding the subject area and number of the meetings. But remember, it’s in your and my interest that politicians are able to talk to people and not disclose to whom they have spoken or reveal the subject matter. Any whistleblower can tell you how important it is to keep their identity secret. The ability of members of the public to get material in front of an MP and, if appropriate, then to the chamber itself is severely diminished if people believe they are at risk of being exposed as ”the informant”. It’s in everyone’s interest to ensure the free flow of information to parliamentarians. Their sources may need protection in the same way that journalists protect their sources.

    There is always suspicion when an MP claims travel to a tourist haven such as Cairns. The suspicion rises when the trip includes any part of a weekend, and particularly if a partner is also travelling.

    Partners are entitled to 12 trips to Canberra each year to compensate for all the time away from home required by the job. They are also entitled to three trips anywhere in Australia. This latter area could be tightened by limiting the three trips to attendance at functions to which partners were invited that related to parliamentary or electorate business, and requiring the functions to be nominated. So a trip to accompany your partner to Cairns while he or she had meetings on, say, remote health delivery would be out, but attendance of a conference dinner at which the MP was a speaker or delegate would be in.

    The publication of all claims in a readily accessible format may have limited the purchases of Guinness World Records and other books. Quite when the generous allowance for book purchases came in, I am unsure, but it should go.

    One of the great privileges of being a federal MP is access to the parliamentary library. It is a national treasure. Background research papers on a range of areas are available to all. If a member can’t get enough information through that wonderful resource, through their own internet searches, and their own contacts, I doubt that purchasing a quantity of books at our expense will be much help to them.

    The allowance for newspapers and periodicals should remain at a decent level. We want them reading and keeping up to date. Periodicals generally deal with new knowledge and fresh debate and can be easily read on the endless flights the poor sods endure.

    There is one thing all MPs should remember when they’re agreeing to spend any money – on themselves through allowances or more generally by legislating for policies and programs. It isn’t government money, it’s the taxpayers’ money.

    The guy paying the lowest rate of tax and the one paying the highest really are hoping it isn’t wasted.

    Amanda Vanstone is a columnist for The Age and was a minister in the Howard government.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/make-some-allowances-for-common-sense-20131020-2vusy.html#ixzz2iIl5bNI2

  107. Ray Dixon says:

    That’s mere excuse-making and muddying-the-waters by an ex-Liberal MP looking to cover up for Tony Abbott. What is it with the Coalition and getting their ex-MPs to do their bidding? First we had the retired Downer expressing policy on the new govt’s behalf re asylum seekers, now they’ve rolled out the Fatstone lady to sing about expense rorts. What’s next, Andrew Peacock speaking about climate change?

    Anyway, this Amanda quote is a beauty:

    Tony Abbott is right to say that if there is any doubt, the money should be repaid. Perhaps he could have added that if there is any doubt, don’t claim. He is also right to not make this a burning issue, because it isn’t. There have been mistakes, errors of judgment – call them what you will – but they are not the norm.

    How laughable. The reason Abbott hasn’t added “if in doubt don’t claim” and the reason he hasn’t made it a “burning issue” is because Abbott himself has been up to his neck in it. He can’t very well admonish or sack himself, can he?

    It’s pathetic stuff. Truly pathetic. The Coalition are rorters. The ALP has its rorters too but the Coalition are the Kings of rorters. They’re rotten, Iain. Rotten to the core.

  108. Iain Hall says:

    You must have missed the part of the archetypical rorter Mal Colston:

    The trouble with people who rort any system is they give everyone a bad name. I was there in the days when senator Mal Colston took rorting to new levels. The story was that he flew to Perth, ate lunch in the lounge and returned on the same plane. The whole purpose was to acquire frequent-flyer points to be exchanged for a wide range of things, such as a television or binoculars.

    and the party he belongs to is LABOR

    Add to that side of the Ledger Craig Thomson
    who may not have been rorting the parliamentary expenses but he was straight up robbing the union members for heaps of money to pay for whores and booze. Then we even have Gillard who helped union rorters steal even more money and launder it through a slush find she created.

    You just can sustain your rather silly suggestion that the coalition have the lead when it comes to rorting. The ALP have just as many bad apples like Gordon Nuttal or Mary Rose who is doing time for corruption up here in Queensland, not to mention the likes of D’arcy who is still in jail for kiddie fiddling,Yep the ALP are such paragons of virtue…. NOT!

  109. Ray Dixon says:

    I’m talking about the current crop, Iain, and it’s patently obvious that among the Coalition (especially the front bench and the PM himself) you’ve got the biggest cheats in Parliament.

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