There’s a solution to the rorts in Canberra. But you won’t like it.

Alan Fels summed it up well on ABC’s AM this morning:

“Basically, politicians want more pay. Basically the public outcry stops that. So instead they get a lot of entitlements and allowances.”

Fels was part of the Belcher committee which delivered a report to the former Labor government in 2010 on parliamentary entitlements. On travel entitlements — catching out Coalition MPs, including the Prime Minister, this week — the report delivered a clear verdict:

“The parliamentary entitlements surrounding travel are arguably the most complex, confusing and difficult to understand both for senators and members and those who administer the entitlements. The committee considered various aspects of travel to assess their continuing relevance, and identify where flexibility and simplicity could be improved.

“The committee concluded that the overseas study travel entitlement would more appropriately be regarded as salary as it includes elements of a personal benefit.  The committee has therefore recommended that the current entitlement cease and that the Remuneration Tribunal consider a salary adjustment, taking into account the annual average expenditure on this travel …”

Scrap the subsidies and put it in their pay — where we can all see it. On overseas travel certainly, but perhaps for all that incidental domestic travel where the line between work and play seems blurry for some.

But a bump in pay? Good luck taking that to the electorate.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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