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Committee: Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority Bill 2017, Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2017

Estimates & Committees
Lee Rhiannon 22 Feb 2017

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (20:39): I move Greens amendment (1) on sheet 8066:

(1) Page 29 (after line 24), at the end of Division 7, add:

34A Authority must refer fraud to the Australian Federal Police

(1) If the Authority suspects that a claim in relation to any of the following is fraudulent or misleading, the Authority must refer the matter to the Australian Federal Police:

(a) an MP work expense;

(b) an MP travel allowance;

(c) a designated parliamentary benefit;

(d) a MOPS travel expense;

(e) a MOPS travel allowance.

(2) Subsection (1) does not, by implication, limit a person's power to refer a matter to a member of an Australian police force.

(3) If:

(a) the Authority refers a matter to the Australian Federal Police under subsection (1); and

(b) the Australian Federal Police or the Director of Public Prosecutions decides not to pursue the matter;

the person who decided not to pursue the matter must notify the Authority of the reasons for the decision.

This covers the issue that Senator Richard Di Natale and I spoke about—that is, that the authority needs teeth or it needs some muscle. This is what the amendment would do. It puts in place a provision that the authority must refer fraud matters to the Australian Federal Police. If the authority suspects that a claim from an MP could possibly be fraudulent, such as an MP work expense, an MP travel allowance, a designated parliamentary benefit, or a MOPS travel expense or travel allowance, that would be referred to the Australian Federal Police.

It is very important that this is included in the legislation we have before us, otherwise it is like a toothless tiger. We actually have a major problem: we have taken a relatively big step but it is like we are really mincing our footsteps before we even get going, if we do not get this in place. So I very strongly urge the senators to support this amendment. It is an important aspect of the authority, if it is able to do the work and to rebuild confidence with the public that they can trust their politicians, that we have mechanisms to deal with any problems that arise in the use of public money.

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The TEMPORARY CHAIR (20:44): The question is that amendment (1) on sheet 8066 be agreed to.

Question negatived.

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