The Committee to consider an independent parliamentary entitlements system was established by the then Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, on 2 August 2015.
The review announcement noted the rules governing the system lacked clarity and transparency and acknowledged that some parliamentary travel had been ‘inside entitlement but outside community expectations’. A simple, effective and clear system to set and monitor parliamentarians’ expenses is needed, one that supports parliamentarians and their staff in their work and allows them to operate inside the rules; enables administrators to provide an efficient and effective service; and assures the public this is happening. The current system does not do this well.
The Committee was asked to propose models for fundamental reform, focusing on greater independence. We have taken into account the diverse nature of Australia’s federal constituencies and the differing duties of Senators and Members. We have invited and considered submissions from interested parties and we have considered international best practice across comparable parliamentary systems.
This Review addresses those aspects of the system we consider most in need of early reform. It contains recommendations suitable for immediate implementation and recommendations suitable for implementation in the medium term. The latter will entail structural – including major legislative – reform which would require time to implement and could be further considered by Government in 2016. We have also proposed interim steps which would realise improvements while work was undertaken to achieve structural reforms.