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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Digging through paper pile to identify pollies perks

All power to the Sydney Morning Herald and University of Technology Sydney journalism students for the joint effort in compiling, and Fairfax papers for publishing, a searchable database of federal parliamentarians free trips, gifts and donors from the pile of handwritten (!) declarations of interest submitted over the past two years. (Open Australia had a crack at compiling then updating the register but not since 2010.)

(Update In the Senate on 12 September Senator Faulkner drew attention to a number of errors in the published version of his declaration of interests some of which were said to be errors in transcription and others false entries.)

But what to say about the parliamentary authorities who preside over this 19th century attempt at accountability where paper records are available for inspection in Canberra during business hours but handwriting decyphering skills and loads of time are needed to make sense of records that otherwise remain unsearchable?

All this apart from the probity questions raised by Professor Mulgan and Professor Uhr.

As to the state parliaments, don't even ask.

Can anyone explain why something like the Scottish Parliament online publication of details of interests and expenses is beyond us?

Or what has happened to the bulk of the Belcher committee recommendations regarding entitlements?

Guess the status quo suits some in our midst.

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