Travel perks amount to 4.3pc ‘pay rise’ for MPs

Pilbara News - - News - Gareth Parker

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.

Pic­ture: Danella Be­vis

Pre­mier Colin Bar­nett and Deputy Pre­mier Liza Har­vey.

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