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Friday, July 08, 2011

Check your Federal MP, while Belcher bounces

Reports on Parliamentarians Entitlements and study reports on overseas travel for the six months to December 2010 were tabled in Federal Parliament this week. Check your local and anyone else of interest. And Special Minister of State Gary Gray said the Remuneration Tribunal is considering the remaining recommendations of the Committee for the Review of Parliamentary Entitlements (the Belcher Report). 

You may or may not be impressed by the Minister's statement that the Government has acted on two recommendations. The first ensured the allocation of positions to the Opposition now reflects the number of Government positions at each classification grouping, not just in total numbers. The second in legislation passed this session gives the Remuneration Tribunal the power to determine parliamentary base salary and requires decisions and reasons to be made public.

Nothing has been said about any of the other recommendations some of which go to transparency issues that are for the Government and the presiding officers of the parliament to act upon, and have little or anything to do with the Remuneration Tribunal. This summary and comment  in April provides more, if you are interested.

Reminder The review of parliamentarians entitlements started in September 2009, following critical findings by the Auditor General. The Belcher Report was tabled in Parliament in March 2011, close to a year after it was completed and handed to the government. "We are committed to reform, openness and transparency to ensure that we maintain the trust and confidence of the Australian people,” Senator Ludwig, the minister then responsible said at the time the Committee was appointed. Some improvements have been made in public reporting on payments made by the Department of Finance separately from the Belcher review process, but that's just part of the picture. Minister Gray's Media Release said nothing about when the Remuneration Tribunal will complete its work or when the Government will act on the Belcher recommendations. The next election will be in 2013 if the parliament runs full term.

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