6 November 2013
Greater openness, FOI key to ending MP expense abuses
Responding to the latest report of MPs misusing public money to attend sporting events, Greens democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said greater openness is the key to raising standards in public life.
“Tighter rules that require MPs to publicly disclose their expense details on a website, similar to what the Scottish parliament has, and an upgrade of FOI coverage of parliament is the way to stop these abuses,” Senator Rhiannon said.
“MPs are using public money and the public have a right to know how that money is spent. In this era of electronic records there is no justification for delays and secrecy.
“The Scottish parliament disclosure system provides a model that would be a great improvement on what we have.
“If you go to the website of the Scottish Parliament you can find out details of how much each MP spent out of their allowance and what it was spent on.
“Greater openness with the public will lift the level of transparency that MPs operate under.
“The Greens will also work to ensure thorough Freedom of Information coverage of the parliament.
“In June this year the Coalition and Labor parties voted together to weaken FOI coverage.
“All the recent revelations of MPs misusing their expenses highlight the need for the vote on the Parliamentary Service Amendment Bill 2013 to be reversed.
“This law shields the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Parliamentary Services Department from the FOI Act completely and retrospectively.
“Labor and the Coalition have a long history of working together to limit scrutiny of how MPs spend their allowances. This has to end.
“About $170 million of public money is administered annually on parliament and MPs,” Senator Rhiannon said.
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