(Update: The mainstream media picked up on this story on 17 January)
(Further Update 24 January.)
For years Senate Estimates have prodded on this issue, the Auditor General has pointed to a sizeable gap in the accountability system, while the Belcher committee in 2010 recommended the publication of names of members and senators who did not certify legal entitlement use in accordance with prescribed terms. Presumably this is what has now been published by Finance. Around 100 names including 20 no longer in parliament have a blank against them. Some prominent front benchers feature (Tony Abbott, Simon Crean, Malcolm Turnbull, all three Bishops) but...House Speaker Peter Slipper gets a tick.
That the Special Minister of State, on the advice of the Department of Finance and Deregulation, table in the parliament:
(i) the name of any sitting or former senator or member who has not substantially complied with a request for information about an alleged entitlement misuse within a reasonable time (for example, 28 days)
(ii) the outcome of the investigation into the complaint, and
(iii) regular reports setting out each senator’s and member’s compliance with the requirement for certification that entitlements have been accessed in accordance with the relevant legislation, including any justification given by the senator or member for non-compliance with the requirement.
Senator Faulkner was the minister at the table during that hearing and obviously thought (p 99) publicly naming "genuine recalcitrants" was necessary, in the interests of proper accountability and transparency:
Senator Faulkner—But obviously the naming and shaming, so to speak, is the next step. You would recall that Senator Murray in fact placed some questions on notice about this issue.
In January 2012, finally a step in the right direction despite the fact Finance and Minister Gray now in Senator Faulkner's portfolio have made nothing of this in public at least.