Victoria Overhauls Parliamentary Allowances

Victoria Overhauls Parliamentary Allowances

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews

Major Overhaul Of Parliamentary Allowances

Victor P Taffa

Andrews Government will comprehensively overhaul the allowance system for Members of Parliament (MP).

Andrews Government will tighten the second residence allowance, improving transparency through online reporting, enforcing repayments and penalties for non-compliance, and removing the ability of MP’s to set their own salaries and allowances.

“Current system is clearly inadequate and needs a complete overhaul. These allowances need to be cleaned up and that’s exactly what we’ll do.” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“Establishing a Remuneration Tribunal means MP’s will never again be able to determine their salaries and allowances and that’s as it should be.”

“While the previous Liberal Government made minor changes in 2013, they left in place an inadequate, outdated and confusing system which did not go far enough to reform the allowance system.” Premier Andrews said.

This new package of reforms will ensure parliamentary standards are in line with community expectations and current professional practices. A significantly enhanced integrity regime will enforce compliance with the new rules and regulations.

To restore public confidence in the Parliament, several immediate changes will be made including:

  • Second Residence Allowance will only be eligible for MP’s who represent regional seats outside the 80 km radius of Melbourne. MP’s claiming the allowance will be required to provide evidence in support of the claim and will need to be enrolled to vote at their principal place of residence. It will also be renamed the ‘Parliamentary sitting accommodation allowance’ to clarify the purpose of the allowance.
  • Commercial Vehicle Travel Allowance is currently available to MP’s in large regional electorates for a range of private transport options for travel on electorate business this will now be restricted to air travel only.
  • Electorate Office and Communications Budget include a $10,000 allocation for interstate and overseas travel for official business. It will now no longer be possible to rollover the travel component to the next financial year and spouse travel will no longer be funded.

In addition to these immediate changes, the Andrews Government will establish an independent Remuneration Tribunal to set salaries and allowances for Members of Parliament, public service executive officers and other office holders.

“Members of Parliament should only be claiming allowances for legitimate, work-related expenses just like every other Victorian and these reforms will make sure that’s the case.” Special Minister Gavin Jennings said.

“We’re serious about enforcing the rules so if MP’s wrongly claim these allowances they will be required to pay them back and under these changes, they’ll also be paying a 25 % fine.”

Remuneration Tribunal will review existing salary, allowances and motor vehicle allowances and will also set the value of the Electorate Office and Communications Budget, the consolidated travel allowances, the second residence allowance, the expense allowance and the electorate allowance.

Remuneration Tribunal’s decisions will be effective from beginning of the next Parliament and ensures MP’s will never again have a say in determining their salaries and allowances.

Parliamentary travel allowances will be consolidated from four to a single allowance for MP’s undertaking electorate or parliamentary business and reimbursement will be for costs incurred. Documentary evidence will be required and additional scrutiny will be provided for claims beyond 68 nights per year in Melbourne, reflecting parliamentary sitting schedules.

For the first time, all allowances claimed will be published on the Parliament’s website every quarter and relevant sections of the Members Guide will be published to ensure full transparency.

Parliament currently has no ability to recover payments claimed in breach of the rules. This is unacceptable so the Government will introduce legislation to allow for recovery and for a penalty of 25 % for noncompliance. This is consistent with the recent approach taken by the Commonwealth Parliament.

Clerk of the Parliament and the Department of Parliamentary Services will also be given a broader monitoring and compliance role and a statement of principles on the appropriate use of allowances will be introduced. A new Parliamentary Integrity Advisor (PIA) will be established to advise and educate MP’s on the use of parliamentary allowances and their obligations to disclose various matters in the Register of Interests.

PIA will give confidential advice on specific matters and prepare an annual report to Parliament. They will be appointed for a term of Parliament and can only be removed on reasonable grounds by the resolution agreed to by both Houses of Parliament.

These changes are in line with the recommendations put forward by the Audit Committee of Parliament.

High Speed Rail will overhaul travel between all Capital Cities and Parliamentary Travel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capital City-Capital City High Speed Rail (Aka Japan’s Bullet Train)

Given the very size of every State and Territory Members of Parliament have larger electorates to service than many other countries have to contend with.

While internet is now available an issue to a resident is often best dealt with if the Member of Parliament goes to a part of the electorate many thousands of kilometres away.

In the case of the Federal Parliament particularly Parliamentary Allowances for MP’s will have to include High Speed Rail as much as air travel.

High Speed Rail will have Regional Railway Stations and so Parliamentary Allowances will have to factor in High Speed Rail as well as air travel.

High Speed Rail services will be tendered out and as with air travel and trains such as the Indian-Pacific, Ghan and Overland a review of all Parliamentary Allowances may need to occur again in every Parliament.

Simplistic notions such as abolishing State Governments or Chambers of Parliament achieve nothing as populations are sparsely located.

Once a roll-on roll Rail Ferry across Bass Strait is introduced MP’s and Senators going to Federal Parliament from Tasmania may decide to also travel by train.

After Federation was proclaimed on 1 January 1901 Federal Parliament sat in Melbourne until 9 May 1927 when proceedings moved to Canberra.