Friday, 18 October 2013

So far nobody has built

a duck house but our politicians have also been involved in some very dubious expense claims.
Claims have been made to attend weddings, funerals, birthday parties, football matches, participate in charity events and visit wineries.
I don't condone any of those claims.
The weddings are probably a little awkward. You're getting married? You feel bound to invite the boss, in this case the leader of the party. He or she feels bound to attend because the media will make much of it if they are not there. It is also an opportunity to do some "networking".  But yes, it is an expense you have to wear as leader of the pack.
Funerals? A former Prime Minister or Governor-General? Mmm... possibly reasonable to expect some minimal taxpayer assistance. Try and tie it in with something else so that things get done. Anyone else - unless you are representing the country abroad pay for it yourself. 
Birthday parties? (That one was for a once leader of the pack.) Definitely not.
Football matches? Why on earth should the taxpayer fund your leisure activities? No, I don't care if Aussie Rules is loved by thousands - even worshipped. Send the team an e-mail if you must.
I would rather you actually played football with the local kids.
Mmm....yes those "charity" events. On balance you should probably be paying to participate in those too. There may be circumstances when you attend such an event in your role as a politician. If it can be genuinely classified as "work" then perhaps there are some expenses that can be claimed but it is a grey area. Great caution is needed.
And then we come to the visits to wineries. I think this might come into the "building of a duck house" class. Nothing can justify those. They were for personal pleasure. They should have been paid for by you. 
The whole business of who pays for what with respect to politicians has become ridiculous. Questions need to be asked. "Is it part of my duty to my electorate?" "Will my electorate benefit?" "Is it part of my wider duties to the parliament?"
There has been more than one blog post recently about the way authors do not get adequately paid for both writing and activities related to writing and earning an income from writing. It seems to me that, if we can pay politicians to visit wineries or go to birthday parties, then we should be able to pay writers to do their job. What is more we should be able to pay them well.
Reading the latest ridiculous claims and counter claims has further depressed me. I just cannot understand how so many of these claims are justified. There might actually be more money around to fund new writing or writing from new authors if we stopped paying politicians not to do their job. 


Judy Edmonds said...

It's a confusing minefield to wade through, I think. I can imagine lots of opportunities to fit genuine work duties in around a social event - I believe one of the ministers who paid back a significant sum of money can claimed half of the cost of going to a wedding in Malaysia because she took the opportunity to set up a number of business meetings in the area after the wedding - so she originally paid for her outbound trip and accommodation, and then once she started the business meetings she claimed everything else on expenses. She has now repaid all of that, I think unecessarily. Apparently the guidelines, which I have not read, are hazy, and it has been promised that they will be made more explicit. I don't know what to think right now, but it is a topic well worth discussing.

catdownunder said...

I agree Judy and it is being used to try and score political points - one could even argue that the politician you mention was actually saving money for the taxpayer.