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STOP THE RORTS

In a time when “Team Australia” is being asked to pull together to fix the “debt and deficit disaster we inherited from Labor”, when we are told “the age of entitlement is over” and “nothing is free”, is it any wonder that people are asking who is on the Team because some of us aren’t doing the hard yards.

In July we heard that Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s second-richest parliamentarian, has invested in a ”vulture fund” based in the tax haven Cayman Islands.  Whilst this is legal, it seems in conflict with the Coalition’s current campaign against corporate tax dodging and the offshoring of profits.

We then heard of how we are paying off Joe Hockey’s investment property in Canberra.  Not only does he claim $270 a night to stay in his own home, he has also collected rent from a host of other MPs who have stayed there.

This is not an unusual practice.  As reported in the Telegraph:

“The double dipping of MPs who claim travel allowance to stay in properties owned by themselves or their wives and in some cases reduce their tax by negatively gearing property is well-known in Canberra.  In 2007, it was revealed Malcolm Turnbull, then regarded as Australia’s richest MP, rented a house from his wife Lucy when in Canberra. It was reported Mr Turnbull paid $10,000 a year to his wife under the arrangement and claimed another $10 a night when she stayed in Canberra.”

This practice of ‘take whatever you can’ is so entrenched that Tony Abbott freely admitted yesterday that the reason he had kept Cabinet waiting for an hour was because he flew to Melbourne the night before for a party (even though it was a sitting day of Parliament) and to justify claiming expenses he had to fit in a photo opportunity the next morning.  Tony’s photo shoots cost this nation millions.

When the Greens called for an independent National Integrity Commissioner to oversee entitlements and parliamentary corruption both major parties scurried away.

The Prime Minister dismissed calls for reform of the entitlements system, saying: ”It doesn’t matter what the rules are. There is always going to be an argument at the margins.”

That’s like saying the rorters are always one step in front of the rules.

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the Department of Finance should investigate politicians’ entitlements across the Parliament, in the wake of the expenses scandals (perhaps before his trip to the snow was noticed).  But he did not back the Greens proposal.

“I’m not convinced that there is a need for yet another integrity officer,” he said. “The Auditor General is already able to look at entitlement claims.”

Either the Auditor General is not doing their job very well or, more likely, they need more staff and some political backing.

With the large number of repayments of “incorrectly” claimed entitlemnts made in recent times, it seems that Tony Abbott and other members of the Federal Parliament may have violated Section 135.3 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act (1995) by “obtaining a financial advantage that they were not entitled to receive.”

Section 135.2 is the criminal code most frequently used by Centrelink to prosecute welfare recipients at the rate of 10 or more people PER DAY for wrongly claiming welfare allowances.

Politicians already have most of their bills paid for them – travel, accommodation, petrol, phone, publications, staff and office expenses – they also draw a hefty wage with a generous retirement package that they can access early.  The base pay for Joe Hockey is $366,000 a year and Tony Abbott gets $507,000 before all the extras are considered.

Before you ask the rest of us to pay half a packet of cigarettes to go to the doctor, how about you give up buying Havana cigars with money taken from pensioners.  Before you cut $44 million from the National Partnership on Homelessness, how about you pay for your own investment properties.  Before you hike up the cost of petrol, how about you pay for your own travel and accommodation to go to parties.

STOP THE RORTS

35 comments

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  1. Kaye Makovec

    It will never stop and they all know it and none care. They all consider the perks part of the job, an entitlement even.
    I can live with most but it is the Hockey deal which gets up my nose!

  2. Dan Rowden

    Abbott’s recent admission to members of his party that he scheduled an event purely for the purposes of legitimising another travel claim – http://tinyurl.com/qjvby6c – may not amount to an admission of fraud in any strict legal sense, but it sure as hell amounts to an admission of political fraud. Will he suffer for it? Probably not. But he damn well should. In fact, there was a time when such an open admission of that kind of chicanery would brings calls for an offending politician’s resignation. I haven’t noticed that happening so far …

    Oh, what the hell – Hey Tony, resign you duplicitous dickwad.

  3. Florence nee Fedup

    I wonder if setting up , as Turnbull has done,, five inquiries into NBNCo, wish people you know are against what Labor did is not itself another rort.

    Then what are all Abbott’s RC about. Is he once again rorting the system, to gain advantage for the Liberal Party.

    I believe that the Liberal Party should pick up the PM’s expenses for trip to Melbourne. Who picks up his accommodation for the night???

    With he state of this government and toxic budget, one wonders about the judgement of the PM.

    Why have the fun raiser at this time?

  4. Dan Rowden

    I think Australia’s mood and morale have worsened considerably. The actions of the Government are harsh and its demeanour has been appalling. Citizens are mostly able to understand and bear tough measures but they cannot abide administrative bad faith and leadership that engages so obviously in bullying and antagonistic culture war against much of the population. The sense of autocracy, corruption and overbearing male authoritarianism is palpable and, of course, people don’t like it. It is evident that the Government refuses to embrace the whole of society with warmth, compassion and magnanimity. The wealth divide is growing alarmingly. The sectarian tough guy political culture has never been so narrow, immature, emotionally retarded or so dysfunctional – and it is all so utterly boring, unimaginative and colourless. The people of Australia are mostly lovelier, saner and wiser than the Government. – Michael Leunig

  5. stephentardrew

    Right on Dan;

    Just keep shifting the goal posts and digging out more and more benefits regardless of ethical obligations. The erosion of parliamentary standards is a classic Noe-conservative game play to prevent any accountability for rorting. They are so openly corrupt yet unaccountable. The media would have jumped all over it if it was Julia. Come on Shorten show some spine.

  6. Kaye Lee

    Rorting of expenses is a big issue. Last year taxpayers shelled out a whopping $100 million in MP entitlements. More than a third of that was in travel expenses.

    There are 11 separate pieces of legislation that govern parliamentarians’ entitlements. There are also three sets of regulation, six determinations by the Remuneration Tribunal and 21 determinations by the Special Minister of State.

    In a report published in December 2004, the Australian National Audit Office said the Department of Finance “necessarily relies heavily upon self-assessment by parliamentarians” for “assurance that Commonwealth resources are only used within the terms of the relevant entitlements”.

    The first page of the travel entitlement section of the handbook seems clear at first glance. It says parliamentarians may claim travel entitlements “in most circumstances only for parliamentary, electorate or official business, but not party business”.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-11/anthony-albanese-mp-entitlements/5012086

  7. townsvilleblog

    The LNP are rotten to the core, some people complained when the ALP governed federally but we have never seen such mismanagment of public monies like we have seen from “all” LNP governments currently in Australia. The asset sales are a cancer on our society, with every revenue based sale of public enterprise sold, less and less government revenue comes in to provide the services that individually we are unable to afford.

  8. stephentardrew

    Kaye if only the ATO would let me rely upon self-assessment. Damn I wonder why that doesn’t happen. Self-assessment wouldn’t be a red flag for rorting would it now?

    Day by day the hole grows bigger. Just when you think enough is enough away we go on our merry sideshow of NLP dystopian insanity.

  9. stephentardrew

    townsvilleblog: Not only that but removing assets from the balance sheet we go more and more into debt. Money created for government owned infrastructure is a capital asset and even when depreciated needs to be maintained as a real asset to the government. More lies and misinformation.

  10. Kaye Lee

    An analysis of MPs’ study tours by The Australian Financial Review found 38 jet-set MPs undertook 45 tours in the second half of 2012, including a $76,493, two-week study tour of Ireland by seven MPs and two of their spouses.

    Labor MP Bernie Ripoll witnessed several stages of the Tour de France while studying bicycle infrastructure in France. Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker took a $28,049, 16-day trip to the United States, United Kingdom and Holland. Mr Hartsuyker, a cycling enthusiast who has ridden in Pollie Pedal charity events with Mr Abbott, spent two nights in Amsterdam studying cycling infrastructure and reported the city enjoyed “several key advantages with regard to cycling culture including a flat landscape [and] high population density” and said “there are lessons Australians could learn from the Dutch experience, including consideration of relaxing helmet rules”.

    Queensland LNP MP Ross Vasta took a $14,345, 15-day trip to China, Hong Kong and Macau, but listed six days of meetings in his 13-page report, which included eight photos of himself.

    And of course there was Gina’s Bollywood fantasmagoria….

    It was Barnaby Joyce’s first foreign study tour as a Senator, and it was particularly brief.

    But his one-day stopover in Malaysia, on the way home from a billionaire’s granddaughter’s wedding in India that he attended as a guest of Gina Rinehart, was “of great assistance” in helping familiarise him with the country, wrote Mr Joyce as part of his six-page report on the trip.

    Gina paid to get them there but Barnaby Joyce, Julie Bishop and Teresa Gambaro collectively claimed more than $12,000 in ”overseas study” allowances to pay for their flights home

  11. Gilly

    Oooo bite your tongue you terrorist. The caption drawing does not show much for education, study or research expenses so they must always be right..

  12. Keitha Granville

    The onle way to stop all of this is to CANCEL all extras for politicians. It might sound horrendous, but work with me.
    Raise their salaries to cover any REASONABLE work related expenses for their positions and then remove ALL ALLOWANCES. Out of their now generous salaries, they can pay for their own cars, phones, travel, stamps, lunches – whatever. “Nothing is free, there should be a co-payment”. I reckon you’d find a lot of them would be living a lot more frugally, and travelling a hell of a lot less other than to and from Canberra. On top of that, there should be a block of flats in Canberra for them to live in when they are there and if they choose to live elsewhere they will have to pay for it – just like the rest of the population.
    $270 a night for one politician in Canberra – $270 covers a whole week for the average Youth Allowance or newstrat recipient for EVERYTHING. This is an obscenity.
    THAT is an age of entitlement that should be well and truly OVER.

  13. Kaye Lee

    In opposition. Prime Minister Tony Abbott used to delight in denouncing Kevin Rudd as a frequent flyer, but Mr Abbott is now set to equal his predecessor’s globetrotting record.

    By September 7 – one year after the Coalition’s election victory – the Prime Minister will have made 11 international trips, the same number as Mr Rudd made during his first 12 months in office.

    And Mr Abbott intends to increase his overseas travel, with government sources telling Fairfax Media’s Australian Financial Review the focus on foreign affairs was a positive distraction from the poorly received federal budget.

    When Mr Abbott replaced Malcolm Turnbull as opposition leader in December 2009, Mr Rudd was in the US discussing climate change with US President Barack Obama.

    “Kevin Rudd loves a crisis to give him an excuse to run to the airport and jump on a 747 and go off and do photo ops with [then British prime minister] Gordon Brown and Barack Obama,” Mr Abbott said.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbott-set-to-equal-kevin-747s-flying-record-20140827-108v85.html#ixzz3BYUUiDfA

  14. J Marsh

    Keitha Granville I totally agree with your suggestions, I would go further and say when out of office a lot of the perks they are entitled to should be curtailed. For example if they need an office so be it, but it should be at their own expense not ours.

  15. John Fraser

    <

    Abbott visits the Peter Maccallum Cancer Research Center …. and some are saying its to claim expenses.

    Link : http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbotts-visit-to-cancer-hospital-used-to-justify-fundraising-visit-20140826-108nxo.html

    Kathy Jackson (Abbotts "lion of the Union movement" and Pynes "Union revolutionary") the Health Services Union whistle blower who now stands accused of misappropriation of $1 million of Union money ….. including $250,000 of workers entitlements owed to them by …… wait for it ….. the Peter Maccallum Cancer Research Center.

    Link: http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/state-told-peter-maccallum-hospital-not-to-cut-250000-deal-with-kathy-jackson-20140810-101x9j.html

    And here we have John Hart fighting hard to take away Aussie worker entitlements.

    Link : http://www.couriermail.com.au/travel/travel-news/restaurants-claim-victory-in-fight-for-lower-weekend-penalty-rates/story-fnjjv9zl-1227037599730

    While at the same time John Hart …. for the second time …. has been excused from the Witness List of ICAC.

    Link: http://www.hospitalitymagazine.com.au/food/news/r-ca-ceo-called-to-the-icac

    "Coincidentally, a John Hart (chair of the Liberal Party’s North Sydney Forum, vice-chair of Restaurant and Catering Australia's NSW/ACT state council and a Federal Government’s National Centre for Vocational Education Research board member) is also to appear before the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption Operation Spicer investigation. Although he has twice been removed from the witness list schedule for the week beginning 25 August 2014."

    Link: http://northcoastvoices.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/one-of-reasons-why-there-is-need-for.html

    Apparently the Hockey's "Age of Entitlements" and Abbotts equality before the Law only applies to some.

  16. Pingback: OH NO!!!!!… THERE ARE NO POLITICIANS IN THE QUEUE. THAT NEEDS FIXING!!!! | olddogthoughts

  17. Anomander

    @Dan, that Leunig quote is pure gold.

    “Hypocrisy” feels like such a weak word.

    We need an alternative that is far more guttural, more emotive and more concise to better describe Abbott and his rorting band of thieves.

  18. Kaye Lee

    Treacherous betrayal?

  19. Lee

    I’m so over these hypocrites. None of the other parties will do anything about it because they are all rorting the system. It’s exactly the same for closing loopholes to make the wealthy pay income tax. They won’t do it because they are also using the same rules for their own benefit.

  20. Christine Farmer

    Keitha Granville, you are absolutely right. The scope for rorting politicians’ allowances seems unending.
    The $270 a night for accommodation in Canberra equates to two thirds of the amount an aged pensioner receives for a whole week.

    Politicians are public servants, when all is said and done. They are there to represent the public, not to attend photo opportunities. To piggyback a party fundraiser on a brief “official” visit is simply immoral, especially while attempting to convince pensioners that they are not having their payments reduced. Anyone with half a brain can see that lowering increases is no different from taking money away, just not so obvious. How stupid does this government think we are?

  21. stephentardrew

    Kaye thought you would like this little treat from harrimike over at the Guardian

    harrimike99 craigsambell

    27 August 2014 5:39am
    Recommend
    57

    Comparison between Abbott and Gillard’s expenses

    When you look close at the expenses, you can see that Julia Gillard’s is high because of overseas travel – and considering that Julia Gillard is the Prime Minister of Australia, one would expect the Prime Minister to travel overseas on business.

    Removing the overseas travel expenses for both Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard is quite revealing. See this link for a breakdown in figures:

    Jan 1st 2011 to June 30th 2011

    Tony Abbott Office Administrative Costs of $202, 065.73 compared to Julia Gillard’s of $8,241.60; twenty-four times Julia Gillard’s expenses.

    Tony Abbott Office Facilities expenses of $159,177.11 compared to Julia Gillard’s of $40,245.34; four times Julia Gillard’s expenses

    July 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011

    Tony Abbott’s expenses for Office Facilities ($165,916.15) are more than four times the cost of Julia Gillard’s ($41,431.62).

    Tony Abbott’s Office Telecommunications expenses ($33,287.53) are more than five times the cost of Julia Gillard’s ($6,637.60).

    Jan 1st to June 30 2012

    Tony Abbott’s expenses for Office Facilities ($154,619.26) are more than three times the cost of Julia Gillard’s ($48,654.53).

    Tony Abbott’s Office Telecommunications expenses ($33,100.77) are more than four times the cost of Julia Gillard’s ($7,911.39).

    The biggest waste of taxpayers money is Tony Abbott himself.

  22. trevo

    Abbott the master of entitlement gouging. Political classes believe it’s their right to financially ripoff the taxes to support Party political issues. Abbott was paid his parliamentary wage while he ran a covert campaign to rid the polity of Hanson and No Notion. Abbotts habits have taken on a newer more insidious element since he became an Minister as opposed to a mere MP. He’s been at it all his adult life. Treachery, theft of public monies, False accounting, LIES< LIES< LIES He does not give a toss and while this political shitstem allows the political ripoff the bastards will keep on doing it. Cancel all this benefit to politicians and make them pay their way.

    Export Abbott not Refugees.

  23. David Linehan

    Mark Dreyfus and his colleagues need to get out in the media and start shouting from the roof tops. This bloody rorting by the Tory’s has got to be investigated. Why doesn’t he do a Brandis and pick up the phone and inform the Feds he wants an investigation into Abbott for starters. plenty of examples.
    Was good enough for Brandis to do it to Speaker Slipper and have him done over for 900 miserable dollars. A mere pittance, nearly drove the man insane and to financial ruin.
    Time to back up the talk with action. unlike in QT today, silence from the Opposition on Abbott’s self confessed rort in Melbourne. Ok for Shorten to tell all in sundry on ABC24 how terrible it was, then does nothing. Bill the Baulker. Penalty first time, yellow card the second and thereafter… you’re off!!
    OK I know the Ministers are Bishops protected species in QT, make that all the time but at least by hammering Abbot with questions at least he knows they are on to him. May make the non Murdock media, I wonder frequently if there is a tactician in their midst at all.

  24. marwill10

    To stephentardrew: “Come on Shorten show some spine.” You’ll be waiting a long time.

  25. Möbius Ecko

    And the entitlement rorts of cronyism by hiring friends and party supporters into government positions they aren’t qualified for hasn’t been factored in the above article and posts. That must run into the millions and again Abbott is front and centre as the worst in this.

    Nor the rorts of nepotism with yet again Abbott front and centre as the worst.

    So where’s all the uproar from the right supporters and MSM who were so vociferous and damning of the previous government for a fraction of this.

  26. Zathras

    What annoys me the most is that during the Telecom era when their employees were under the same administrative rules for Travel Allowance, this sort of “double dipping” was considered illegal and I know of one person who was sentenced to 3 years prison for what Hockey and others now do with impugnity.

    To top it off I recall a TV documentary that showed Hockey in a shared Canberra house and he was also collecting rent from colleagues who were staying there.

    There are also NSW State government members who use contrived home addresses to maximise their entitlements while Parliament is sitting.

    So much for the new austerity they demand from their constituents.

    It may be legally correct with regard to “entitlements” but it’s ethically immoral, especially considering Abbott’s recent admission of his own rorting.

  27. johnlord2013

    When you consider how many ministers John Howard lost in his first term over the most trivial matters it would not be unreasonable to ask the PM to resign.

  28. Wayne Turner

    Clearly Abbott & these Libs were PROJECTING (again) when they claim they need to “STOP THE WASTE”. You first Rorting Abbott,you first…

  29. Wayne Turner

    Exactly John Lord – Labor should say it to Abbott every day. When the hypocrite Libs then claim Labor are being “negative”,just remind these Libs how that’s all they are – NEGATIVE!

  30. Kaye Lee

    Speaking of rorts, Kathy Jackson is streaming live now if you are interested

    http://commcast.com.au/turc/

  31. BJWard

    I commented this morning, in another forum, about the VIP aircraft hoo-haa in 1967. That nearly toppled Harold Holt’s Coalition government, after John Gorton released some papers which showed Holt had misled Parliament about the issue. If I remember rightly, it was all about certain government figures using the RAAF’s 34 Squadron aircraft as personal taxi services. Nothing much has changed, it seems. I understand Mr. Abbott used a VIP aircraft for his Melbourne trip – something else he would have had to justify by claiming urgent official business. A very tenuous justification given the premise of this article.

  32. Kaye Lee

    LIBERAL and Nationals senators were gathering for their annual black-tie dinner on Monday night when a whisper went around the room that Tony Abbott wouldn’t be coming.

    As they chattered over drinks at the Boat House restaurant in Canberra, the senators heard the Prime Minister had to skip the event this year to attend to national security matters.

    Only the next day did they learn they had been rubbed out of their leader’s diary so he could get to a fundraising dinner in Melbourne the same night.

    Angry at the way the Prime Minister’s office is working, MPs are starting to air their concerns about being cut out of important decisions.

    Whether the grievance is a dinner cancellation, a late arrival or an overnight policy switch on racial discrimination laws, the backbench sees a recurring problem: a lack of respect for party colleagues.

    Tuesday’s meeting heard a rebuke about the “brains trust” in the Prime Minister’s office that keeps springing surprises on the backbench, while several MPs warned about the unpopularity of budget measures including the $7 copayment on GP visits.

    Victorian Liberal Russell Broadbent challenged Education Minister Christopher Pyne on the $5 billion cuts to university funding.

    NSW Liberal Russell Matheson questioned whether key ­policies were being neglected by merging portfolios such as health and sport and aged care.

    Queensland Liberal National Party MP Warren Entsch was sharply critical of the way MPs would first learn of decisions by reading about them in the newspapers.

    That point was drummed home when one MP stood to complain about the way Abbott abandoned the amendments to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act without any consultation with the backbench.

    “We may as well not exist, that’s what it comes down to,” said one member of the party room yesterday.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/how-abbotts-direction-is-making-some-fellow-travellers-a-little-uneasy/story-fn59niix-1227039221904#mm-premium

  33. A J Cook

    The most effective way of shutting a politician’s mouth is to raise the issue of negative gearing.

  34. Tired of it all

    How are we here again not even a year later asking the same questions and after the ridiculous comments from the government at budget time about new mothers double dipping! I’m certain they haven’t been double dipping to the tune of $10,000 or dodgy photo shoots to ligitimise interstate travel. I’m so ashamed of the polititions in this country we need to start making them accountable for their actions, this is a democracy they are not our Leaders, They don’t Rule us. They represent us and right now they are only representing their own best interests

  35. Florence nee Fedup

    Has anyone noticed any rise in GPS since first July?

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