Friday, 11 October 2013

It should not be acceptable

to charge taxpayers to attend a wedding or a sports event - or is it?
The media is presently spending a great deal of time investigating old "expenses rorts" by our politicians. They love doing that and so do certain sections of the population.
The reason it is so much fun is that the reporting has, to date, been a little - shall we say one-sided? They are making a great fuss about expenses claimed and then repaid by our newish Prime Minister. Some of these date back years. The information was available long ago. It is old news but it has been made into new news because, without it, there would be no opportunity to continue criticising him and glossing over anything he might achieve. After all, this is the man the media loves to hate.
I am not suggesting he did the right thing. Was he attending those weddings as a friend, a colleague or because he thought he should or for some other reason? He was competing in the sports event. Was he doing it for personal satisfaction, to set a good example or because it gave him the chance to network in a marginal seat? I suspect it would have been wiser to pay for these things straight out.
At the same time however there is no mention of the fact that some of those now in Opposition have had some interesting trips of their own. Two of them claimed taxpayer funds to attend the 80th birthday bash of a previous Prime Minister. The Prime Ministerial jet was used to fly from Canberra to Melbourne to attend a football match as a spectator.  And of course there have been weddings and funerals of an equally party-political nature which have been claimed on taxpayer expenses.  Oh and someone attended the last royal wedding...but that counts as a duty.
Mmm... I do wonder what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.
What really gets me are those "study trips". You know the sort of thing I mean. Our politicians take a little trip abroad, first class fares and hotels and meetings with a few people one of whom will show the politician around a power plant or printing press or something equally unlikely.
Of course our new Foreign Minister said "business class" and a single room was quite adequate thankyou. She did not need first class travel or a suite of rooms. Not much has been said about that. The media probably thinks it is not befitting her position to slum it like that.
And there is something that really puzzles me. It seems that the taxpayers are now expected to foot the bill for something that is definitely a party-political issue. The opposition members are heading back to Canberra to vote for a new leader. It is all part of the "rules" that the previous Prime Minister managed to put in place believing that he was going to be there for the long haul. The process is supposed to be more "democratic". It is supposed to give the party members a say in who leads the party. There appears to be dissension in the ranks - or at least between the plebs and the pollies. I suspect the pollies will win - after all, they have to work with the leader.
But why should taxpayers have to pay for this? It should be a simple matter of a vote. It could even be done by post. Taxpayers should not be forking out $200,000 or more for them to sort out their leadership squabbles. No doubt someone will tell me it is vital they have a leader. Well yes, but they have to sort it out for themselves and at their own expense.
I believe there is one politician who has been in parliament for years. Much has been said about Bill Heffernan and it has rarely been complimentary but the man has apparently never been guilty of rorting travel expenses or taking a study trip. Perhaps all other politicians could learn something from that.

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