Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

The System's Not at Fault, Just Those Who Exploit It

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

The System's Not at Fault, Just Those Who Exploit It

Article excerpt

"I AM just not going to sit in judgment of a friend and colleague like that ... Bronwyn's resignation today, will help to restore public respect, but as I have said repeatedly this afternoon this is not just about one person -- it is about a system obviously gravely in need of further reform and that is exactly what will happen as a result of the review that I have announced today."

Is the system the problem as the Prime Minister suggests, or is it a case that some members are totally lacking an ethical or moral compass?

The Greens have suggested a simple solution that may temper those elected to serve us who quickly develop a sense of entitlement.

MPs claiming money from their employer for expenses incurred would be required to justify them and then to be reimbursed accordingly, a practice common to many work places. Such a step would not be required if MPs or their staffers simply picked up the phone and called the Department of Finance in advance to verify the validity of a potential outlay.

Or they could go to the department's website which offers, and has done so for the past three years, a guide to use of entitlements.

It warns "The fact that there is some room for interpretation of the entitlements framework it is important to take extra care to avoid creating grounds for criticism which, even if ill-founded, can damage a Senator or Member's reputation. Each Senator and Member is individually accountable for his or her use of entitlements as they are required to certify that use was within entitlement."

The advice goes on to say "while Ministerial and Parliamentary Services can provide advice and assistance, it remains the responsibility of the Senator or Member to satisfy themselves that their use of their entitlements is lawful. It is also in the Senator or Member's interest to satisfy themselves that the use is publicly defensible". …

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