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Friday, June 27, 2008

Members interests bared and await inspection-in Canberra

Pure coincidence, after the post here yesterday, that new registers of interests of members of the House of Representatives and Senate, and details of the cost of travel for members and former members were tabled on the last day of sittings in Canberra as Parliament rose for a two month break. Here is what The Age (with this additional report about disclosures by senators) and the Sydney Morning Herald thought newsworthy; other print media, as best I can tell, are yet to run a story. If these disclosures were available online we could make what we wished of all or any of the declared interests and use of taxpayers money. As it is, to find out what any of us may wish to know, it's a trip to Canberra to inspect the binders-during business hours of course.( Postscript: The Special Minister of State has now published on the web, the aggregate travel allowances and expenses for each person who was a Minister, Parliamentary Secretary, Opposition Office Holder or Leader of a Minority Party during the period 1 July to 31 December 2007, and establishment information in relation to their staff. It's a start)

And while the detail of many allowances paid to and spent by our MPs(Federal and state) remains hidden from view, the disclosure of the use of the London allowance by their UK counterparts, strongly resisted but eventually forced by the High Court in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, has led to significant reforms and tightening of the rules, as reported in The Guardian.One change is routine, regular disclosure on the web, in the name of restoring public trust and confidence.

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