The case also raises the issue of transparency. Parliament is not covered by freedom-of-information legislation. It should be. It is no breach of Westminster tradition: the British Parliament is covered by it, as was shown by the recent expenses scandal. Given that Parliament has a budget of $180 million to spend on its members, there is significant public interest in ensuring it is spent properly.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Parliament sails above expected standards of transparency
Amid all the hubbub about Speaker Slipper, sure not to die down anytime soon despite his decision to step aside for the moment, I've been wondering when the mainstream media would notice that reams of material about his (or any parliamentarians') expenditure of public money seems to be available from the Department of Finance and Deregulation, either in published form or in response to Freedom of Information applications, but nothing from the Parliament itself about payments made to or on his behalf.
Parliament not Finance pays salaries and electorate allowances of parliamentarians, additional salaries of parliamentary office holders, superannuation entitlements, resettlement allowance payments, and services and facilities to support parliamentarians in Parliament House including the cost of office accommodation, computing and other equipment, telephones, newspapers and stationery. And perhaps travel for office holders such as the speaker when on business connected to that office, but who knows, this is murky territory.
But hallelujah, this in an editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday:
I won't go back over years of pointing out that the Australian Law Reform Commission recommended this, ahem, 17 years ago. (Well I will actually.)
Or that no government or parliamentary leader has given a response since.
Or that I've been ranting on for yonks about gaps in transparency for payments to parliamentarians most recently last week, further back last November or even further back, a year ago.
Or that parliament has been fiddling but not acting to establish the position of parliamentary integrity commissioner?
Has anyone asked minister for integrity issues/parliamentary entitlements, Special Minister of State Gray?
Or the presiding officers of parliament?
Wait a minute, one of those is Speaker Slipper who retains the position despite the fact he has stood aside from chairing parliamentary debate.
Ah you've got to love 'em!