Revealed in last week’s Budget, we will now pay $13.2 million to set up the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA) to look into politicians’ work expenses – that’s around $59,000 per politician.
Another $35 million will go towards reviewing travel expenses paid out to MP’s this year, with over $30 million in yearly “special appropriations” to check the payments and $10 million for departmental expenses including 66 staff.
In total, the new scheme, which starts on 1 July, will cost taxpayers around $313 million over the next four years.
The authority was announced by the Federal Government back in February following revelations that the Health Minister Sussan Ley had bought an $800,000 Gold Coast apartment while on a taxpayer-funded trip. She was then forced to quit her post.
Spending up big – to stop big spenders
At the time, Malcolm Turnbull said: “We should be as careful and accountable with taxpayers money as we possibly can be … we are dealing with other people’s money.”
They need the reminder. The Remuneration Tribunal reported last year that in just one year, politicians spent $31.13 million on domestic and overseas travel – that’s about 1,058 tickets a week!
And let’s not forget Bronwyn Bishop’s now-infamous $5,000 helicopter ride.
The Government has promised the new system will only cost us $3 million more than what’s already being spent.
Is it fair that we should have to pay more? No.
But the cost of keeping our politicians honest? Priceless.