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The Age Of Entitlement Is Over, Not The Age Of Entitlements!

Yes, we all remember Joe’s pronouncement about the “age of entitlement” being over. But like so many things that the Coalition tell us, you need to listen very carefully or you may miss the subtlety. He was, of course, talking about people, not politicians.

Now some of you will be pointing out that politicians are people too, and, of course, that’s true. But they’re a special sort of person. They’re the sort of person who finds coincidences everywhere. Like a few years ago, when Tony Abbott went to Melbourne on official business, and he just happened to have Liberal Party business on the same trip. Things like that were happening to him all the time. But, it seems, that’s just part of the special magic that seems to follow politicians around.

And they’re always working, and logically, because they’re always working, anywhere they go, they should be entitled to claim a travel allowance. As Sussan Ley pointed out, she’d done nothing wrong and she was only resigning because she thought it was the right thing. And Mr Turnbull agreed telling everyone that she’d done the right thing by resigning when she’d never done the wrong thing because sometimes it’s the right thing to stand aside to stop all those nasty people attacking you about all those trips on government business to the Gold Coast where – by a simple twist of fate – your partner has a business.

No, if one has done the wrong thing, one should resign. Not only that, even if one hasn’t done the wrong thing, one should resign because sometimes that’s the right thing, because, if you don’t, you’ll have to explain why you suddenly and impulsively directed the Commcar to an auction where you weren’t planning to buy a property, as well as why you seem to have so much electoral business in the Gold Coast, whatever ministry you’re in charge of.

No, nobody’s done anything wrong. In fact, in another amazing coincidence, Mr Turnbull has just announced that he’ll be doing something about all these travel claims from politicians just like he promised to do when he got the report from the socialists who thought it unreasonable for politicians to take helicopters in order that their arrival was given the sort of grand entrance that their position deserved. He’s also promised to actually keep his promise this time.

But, this travel allowance business is not simple. As Steve Ciobo, Minister For Trade, pointed out, it’s only reasonable for politicians to claim travel allowances for sporting events because, well, he didn’t get free tickets because he’s Steve Ciobo, he got free tickets because he’s a minister and what’s the point of getting free tickets if you end up out of pocket by having to pay your own travel costs. To be fair, Mr Ciobo did make the point that while at events like the AFL Grand Final, politicians are actually working. To me, that’s the shame. Tickets being wasted on people who don’t have time to watch, when so many people would love to be there merely to see the game!

Pauline Hanson, meanwhile, grew rather testy at a reporter who asked her about whether all her travelling around Queensland campaigning was an appropriate use of travel allowance. Pauline pointed out that she wasn’t campaigning, she was on electoral business because she’s a senator and the whole of Queensland is her electorate. It just happened to coincide with opportunities to introduce One Nation Candidates for the coming state election. Like I said, coincidences follow politicians in a magical way.

(Speaking of One Nation, did anyone else notice that the candidate with an Asian background, Shan Ju Lin, was disendorsed for making homophobic statements, but there was no problem with another One Nation candidate, Tracey Bell-Henselin, writing the LGBTI community was out to “destroy families”, as well as reminding people about the Clinton’s pizza parlour. The One Nation candidate who suggested that the photo of the dead Syrian child was staged and that Martin Bryant was innocent has offered his resignation, but it hasn’t been accepted yet. Given Pauline was disendorsed for her remarks in 1996 when standing for the Liberal Party, it’s good to see that she has so many candidates prepared to attempt to follow her example.)

So, from what I’ve learned this week, it seems that Peter Slipper’s mistake was to try to pay the money back. If he’d just said that he was travelling on electoral business and that he decided to visit several wineries “on impulse” then it wouldn’t have been the wrong thing. And, if Craig Thomson had merely announced that Health Union members expect their officials to spend lots and lots on the credit card, well, he would have had an ally in Ciobo.

But I suspect that Liberal politicians might see that differently.


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  1. Ella Miller

    Excellent piece.
    I think we are living in George Orwell’s Animal Farm…where….

    All animals are created equal…BUT some animals are more equal than others.

    Were the animals pigs…with snouts in the trough?

  2. jim

    I’m thinking Pauleen Hunsun would really love to be in the Liberal party she knows she’s got the brains and the born to rule attitude.

  3. Susan

    Great read Rossleigh I smiled the whole way through.

  4. Kyran

    My word, Mr Brisbane. You have gone from satire to channelling the ghost of Joseph Heller.
    “Catch-22 starts as a set of paradoxical requirements whereby airmen mentally unfit to fly did not have to do so, but could not actually be excused. By the end of the novel it is invoked as the explanation for many unreasonable restrictions. The phrase “Catch-22″ has since entered the English language, referring to a type of unsolvable logic puzzle sometimes called a double bind. According to the novel, people who were crazy were not obliged to fly missions, but anyone who applied to stop flying was showing a rational concern for his safety and was, therefore, sane and had to fly.”
    Just on recollection, Slipper and Thompson were two that were NOT afforded the opportunity to simply repay their indiscretions. They were pursued, through criminal process and a RC, by those bastions of impartiality, the AFP. For the life of me, I cannot work out how many AFP officers Abbott slept with. Hmmm, no pillow talk?
    Thank you, Mr Brisbane. Take care

  5. Carol Taylor

    Peter Slipper clearly should have said he was visiting local entrepreneurial businesses, investigating export potential and opportunities for young unemployed Canberrans. Peter Slipper vineyard visits = bad him. Other pollies expenses to attend his wedding = good.

  6. Kyran

    Just too funny, Ms Lee. If talcum goes as appalling’s +1, they can take one of those air force thingy’s and represent Australia. Hockey and burst one can share the expenses. If there are only two seats, I’m sure they can work it out. Ooops, my bad. Is the minister of (or is that for?) foreign affair’s and her +1 going to be there? Them two seats just got really interesting.
    Just too funny. Imagine trying to ‘spin’ that story. I’m sure the trumpster will help. Even he must know about Pine Gap by now.
    Just too funny. Take care.

  7. ozibody

    Indeed ! well written Rossleigh … with a satirical twist … 😉 …

    In the current environment, and neo-con Government style, there are No clearly defined Lines ! ….. the ‘ age of Interpretation ‘ prevails in an era of ‘smudgy lines ‘ !. ….. thus the scope is endless ! …. Enter, stage left, a watchdog entity gifted with the ‘ ability & experience ‘ to adjudicate.(like an umpire ) AFTER the event !…. ” AFTER ” allows for Precedents to be Established ….. and slowly erosion sets in !

    Come on ! It’s about the ACTION ….. Not the ‘ does it qualify’ after the event!

    You set the stage in a recent article Kaye Lee by (in one matter alone) asking why do Government Ministers in particular REALLY need to travel Australia to make Announcements, and have Meetings etc ?….. .in This Age of Technology ? ….. Spare us your ‘ having ‘ to charter an aircraft because an appointment time failed to suit commercial aircraft schedules! (m/s Lee) ….. dare I ask about chicken or egg !

    Whilst Mr. Shorten is pushing hard for a Federal ICAC , this expenses scam is red hot right NOW ………. and dead easy to fix ( Marketing depts. do it quickly & easiiy) … then leverage success to lead on to the Fed. ICAC.

    I came here to read an email before bedtime … and now I’ve let fly on this … oh well, it’s been simmering in me for a while … ‘ night.

  8. Klaus

    I noticed, the entire sorry entitlements and rip off saga is already out of MSM and news stations. Even the ABC has lost interest. As if the thing is resolved.

    I wonder whether Mal is counting on exactly that and if there will be genuine reform, with an independent authority to oversee travel and query whether business could not have been done differently.

    Working in private industry, flying to another capital is NEVER first option. In fact, it is rarely necessary. And as Kaye and numerous other writers pointed out, there is little that requires you to travel, take your family, check into resorts and then work your poor little ass off.

    I feel sorry for the pollies. Maybe we are to draconian on them?

  9. Pilot

    If our politicians need to be hobbled and muzzled to get them out of their feeding frenzy on our money then so be it!! These village idiots couldn’t wait to latch on to the public teat, they are disgraceful.
    We, as the voting public, need to teach them some manners. Teach them to respect our wishes and to look after those within our community who actually need assistance.
    It is NOT right they they continue to throw money at the rich & greedy and leaving our poor to suffer.
    They truly are the most disgraceful government Australia has ever had.

  10. Terry2

    In Britain they have now created an Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) overseeing the expenses of politicians and, as an independent body, empowered to recover expenses claimed without adequate evidence of them having been incurred for parliamentary ( not personal or political) purposes.

    In the Australian context : the Bronwyn Bishop case of ‘choppergate’ would clearly be excluded as it was incurred for party political purposes to attend a Liberal fundraiser. In the UK the cost would be recovered by IPSA or, more likely, not paid in the first place.

    The multiple trips to the Gold Coast by Sussan Ley would be reviewed in accordance with who she was meeting with, the purpose of the meetings and their relevance to her role as Health Minister : as it now seems that Ley actually lives part of the year on the Gold Coast the travel costs would only be paid by reference to the costs of her travelling to and from her electorate of Farrer. On balance, depending on the new rules, only travel between her electorate and Canberra would qualify.

    As a Senator, Pauline Hanson says that her electorate is the whole of the state of Queensland and in that she is correct. But she has also been campaigning in WA, Tasmania and elsewhere : whilst her electoral allowance would apply to travel and accommodation in Queensland, elsewhere in Australia would be strictly a party expense.

    It’s not straightforward and politicians prefer to have grey areas and loopholes to slip through but the ball is now very much in Turnbull’s court to establish an independent authority with teeth and absolute real time transparency.

  11. Fuzzbox

    Great read and straight to the point. As you have stated their actions always seem to be ‘coincidental’ and always ‘work related’ which I find to be a crock and quite insulting. They seem to be (or they try to give the illusion) that they are the hardest working people on the planet – always working at sporting and social events. What rubs me the wrong way is how they rationalise their ‘fraud’ and ‘gorging’ of public funds. A perfect example of this is Julie Bishop’s gall to claim allowances for attending a polo event which was clearly a non-work related – social event. From the photos I have seen I don’t think there were any ambassadors or foreign affairs personnel from other countries that warranted to her claim that she was there on work-related matters, and therefore, charge the Australian taxpayer over $2000 for drinking champagne and having her photo taken with celebrities!! It is simply quite farcical this whole situation.

  12. cartoonmick

    There’s probably several flaws in what I’m about to type (I just made it up).

    ‘The combined Greed and Stupidity of many politicians is indirectly proportional to these politician’s Wisdom.’

    Unfortunately, we don’t appear to have many pollies these days who display a strong thread of Wisdom.
    Perhaps we could also blame that on ‘Climate Change’.
    Or maybe they are too focused on party policies and self preservation.

    Sadly, Wisdom is a diminishing characteristic within our political scene these days, as this cartoon alludes to……………….

    Editorial / Political


  13. twistie1

    @Terry2, your comments about our esteemed Queensland Senator Pauline Hanson reminded me of her junket to Norfolk Island several months ago. Given that Norfolk Islanders are represented by the Member for Canberra in the House and the ACT Senators in the Senate, on what basis could Hanson possibly justify an expenses claim to Norfolk on parliamentary business? I eagerly await the publication of the July to December 2016 Parliamentary Expenses to see what little gems for Ms Hanson are thrown up. Similarly, on what basis did the NSW ONP Senator justify his non-swimming visit to the Great Barrier Reef, if indeed he did claim? Will he be claiming his trip to the US from Trump’s Inauguration? Interesting reading awaits!

  14. king1394

    Regarding the idea that Senators represent their entire State, does this mean that all the State have Senators flying hither and thither all the time? What is the normal work related itinerary of a Senator?

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