A seat in parliament can now provide a poll advantage of up to $393,500, the Leader of Opposition in the Senate, Chris Evans, has calculated.

Yesterday, the Government used its numbers in the Senate to defeat a move by Democrats accountability spokesman Andrew Murray supported by Labor and the Greens to disallow the aggregation and carry-over of charter allowance and communications allowance for members representing electorates of 10,000 square kilometres or more.

“The new policy of allowing communications allowance and charter allowance to be aggregated and accumulatively carried over is wrong because allowances for one purpose should not be interchangeable for allowances for another purpose,” Murray says.

“The effect is also reprehensible because it will contribute to unjustifiable incumbency advantages in an election year.”

Evans has estimated that each of the 33 members in large constituencies – 26 of whom are from the Coalition – can now kick off their re-election campaign with a whopping $393,500 of taxpayer funds at their disposal.

Peter Fray

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