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Ley goes, and Turnbull’s reforms pave way for fewer expenses scandals

Yee-Fui Ng writes in The Conversation (13.1.17) about the Turnbull government’s response to the parliamentary expenses scandal which led Sussan Ley to resign as Health Minister.

‘Sussan Ley has resigned as health minister following allegations she misused her travel entitlements and breached ministerial standards. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Ley judged resignation to be the appropriate course of action in the interests of the government. But Ley has maintained her claims were within the rules.

‘In response to the scandal, Turnbull has announced major reforms to the parliamentary entitlements system. The changes are modelled on the UK’s system of vetting MPs’ expenses.

‘The main reform Turnbull announced is the introduction of an independent agency, modelled on the UK’s Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, for parliamentary entitlements. The Department of Finance administers Australia’s current system.

‘… Turnbull’s reforms will significantly revamp the entitlements system. They introduce for the first time an independent agency to vet MP expenses. If the agency does its job well, it will ensure MPs do not abuse the system.

‘The reforms will also simplify the system, enhance transparency, tighten the rules, and introduce enforceable penalties. When the system comes into effect, Australians will hopefully see fewer politicians flying around in helicopters and private jets while attending to their private affairs on public funds.’

QLD MPs’ expenses also under the microscope

As Lachlan Thompson reports in the Sunshine Coast Daily (30.1.17), Queensland state MPs aren’t immune from having their travel expenses and other member entitlements under scrutiny and questioned for their validity.

‘GOLD Coast MP John-Paul Langbroek has refused to explain why he claimed hundreds of dollars in expenses for meals and accommodation while staying no more than a 20-minute drive from his home.

‘Mr Langbroek – who is presently the Shadow Minister for Health – lives in a canal-side property in Clear Waters Island Waters – about 12 kilometres from Main Beach and just five kilometres from Broadbeach.

‘However those short distances did not stop him billing the taxpayer for travel allowance when he attended events at the beachside suburbs.

‘… Professor of parliamentary and electoral law at the University of Queensland Graeme Orr said the claim looked odd at face value.’

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