Travel perks amount to 4.3pc ‘pay rise’ for MPs
State politicians have been quietly handed what amounts to a $6750 a year pay rise thanks to a previously unreported change to their travel entitlements.
The independent Salaries and Allowances Tribunal, which sets the pay and conditions of WA politicians, judges, mayors and senior public servants, last month scrapped the existing reimbursement system for MPs’ interstate and overseas travel, replacing it with direct payments into their bank accounts every month — whether they travel or not.
Accountability for taxpayers’ funds will be eroded further under the change. It appears there will be no requirement, as there is now, for MPs to report to Parliament on their publicly funded travel.
The existing rules on the Parliamentary Travel Entitlement allow MPs to be reimbursed up to $27,000 each four-year parliamentary term for interstate and overseas travel.
The system allows MPs to recover reasonable costs of flights, accommodation, meals and conference costs in connection with interstate and overseas travel undertaken in connection with their job as parliamentarians.
“The intent of the allowance is to assist each member of Parliament to inform themselves and to be involved in the policy development and decision-making processes which are fundamental to their duties in the Parliament and in representing their electorates,” the SAT said when it took over the old Imprest scheme in 2013.”
When the new rules come in on March 12, the scheme will be scrapped and MPs paid a travel entitlement of $6750 a year.
MPs’ pay was frozen last year by the SAT amid a Budget crisis and inflation-only public sector wages policy, but the travel entitlement change amounts to a 4.3 per cent increase to the base backbencher’s pay of $156,536.
MPs would be paid regardless of whether they travelled.
Premier Colin Barnett and Deputy Premier Liza Harvey.