In order to avoid “errors of judgement” and “flights inadvertently booked for official travel rather than private”, and to help with budget repair and reducing carbon footprint, here are a few tips for politicians.
Stop flying to places outside your electorate to make announcements.
The Federal government is located in Canberra. That is where announcements should be made. If there is an area specific component, then the local member can elaborate to their electorate.
Stop charging the taxpayer for your attendance at sporting and cultural events.
If you have been lucky enough to be given free tickets to an event, be grateful, but pay for your own travel and accommodation. Barnaby Joyce’s excuse that you have to hire limos or use comcars because you are obliged to drink doesn’t pass the wine bar test.
Weddings are not official business unless a foreign head of state is getting married and you are representing the government.
Claims of “networking” are not acceptable. You should not expect to be paid for having a chat or being at the same function as someone you may have future official dealings with. Attending a colleague’s wedding, or your own in the case of WA MP Steve Irons, is not government business.
Stop taking your spouse to work.
In 2016 the House of Representatives sat on 51 days. That leaves 315 days when they didn’t have to be in Canberra. There may be certain occasions where it is appropriate for your family to join you – first and final speeches for example – but to suggest that you need family reunions means you have chosen not to see your family during the 45 weeks you are not in Canberra.
Do not organise meetings around visits to your investment properties or parties you want to attend
It is a very bad look to have a contrived meeting and then go on to your investment property or hobby farm. And last minute photos just before you fly out after attending parties do not entitle you to claim for travel and accommodation.
Stop the narcissistic need to have your photo taken.
It is not necessary to fly thousands of kilometres to have your photo taken with a shovel to announce investment in building infrastructure. It is not necessary to shut down a workplace so you can be filmed on the factory floor.
Use skype and teleconferencing
Flying dozens of bureaucrats business class from Canberra and all over Europe to get together in Paris to discuss how they can cut costs is not productive or cost-effective, or even vaguely justifiable. Use Skype and tele-conferencing and emails.
Use the internet instead of study tours
Going to a golf tournament on the other side of the country, Steve Irons again, or having a between flight layover in Kuala Lumpar, Barnaby Joyce, do not constitute “study”. You can save time and money by researching on the internet or asking the many experts specifically employed to do research for the government.
Stop using accommodation allowances to pay off your mortgages.
I know you all do it, and it is “within the rules”, but that doesn’t make it right. Change the rules. And while you are at it, build an accommodation wing on Parliament House and we could save a fortune on accommodation allowances, comcars and security whilst reducing wasted travelling time and increasing politicians’ productivity.
Reduce your number of offices
There is absolutely no need for MPs to have multiple offices. It’s not like they are sitting there at the counter waiting to have a chat with you. Use communication technology to engage with your constituents. Answer their emails or their questions on facebook. Return phone calls where necessary. Shopfronts do not equate to availability.
There are countless examples of enormous waste in government spending – welfare is not one of them.
Get your own house in order.
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