Ex­penses changes wel­come, says Irons

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Aaron Cor­lett

SWAN MHR Steve Irons has wel­comed po­ten­tial changes to the par­lia­men­tary en­ti­tle­ments sys­tem af­ter be­ing caught in an ex­penses scan­dal last year.

Changes to the sys­tem were once again brought up af­ter Health, Aged Care and Sport Min­is­ter Sus­san Ley re­signed af­ter it was re­vealed she and her hus­band had bought a $795,000 Gold Coast prop­erty dur­ing a May 2015 trip to Queens­land.

On the trip she made an an­nounce­ment about the Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Ben­e­fits Scheme.

She also made 17 trips to the Gold Coast be­tween 2013 and 2016, cost­ing tax­pay­ers more than $40,000.

One of the changes that is be­ing pro­posed is the in­tro­duc­tion of an in­de­pen­dent agency, from which MPs and se­na­tors would be able to get ad­vice and rul­ings.

In an in­ter­view with the South­ern Gazette, Mr Irons said he wel­comed change. Steve Irons: Good for the sake of trans­parency.

“When you put in the travel claims with the De­part­ment of Fi­nance, they don’t pub­lish the rea­sons for the trips,” he said. “For the sake of trans­parency, I think it would be good if a new sys­tem was put in place. I was not com­fort­able with all of the re­port­ing (of the ex­penses); my wife (Ch­eryle) was livid with it. Some but not all the facts are dis­closed in the cur­rent sys­tem.”

It was re­vealed last year that Mr Irons charged tax­pay­ers $1132.88 for a flight to Mel­bourne on Oc­to­ber 28, 2011 for Vic­to­ria Derby Day just days af­ter get­ting mar­ried at Mel­bourne’s Crown Casino.

He charged tax­pay­ers $1346.14 for the flight to Mel­bourne for the wed­ding on Oc­to­ber 18 be­fore again charg­ing tax­pay­ers $911.80 for flights back to Perth on Oc­to­ber 25.

It has been re­ported that Mr Irons paid back the money for the wed­ding trip af­ter a self­au­dit in 2013.

Mr Irons also charged tax­pay­ers $1875.14 for flights to Bris­bane and $258 for a three­night stay at the Gold Coast to ex­plore golf tourism op­por­tu­ni­ties in De­cem­ber 2015.

Mr Irons has main­tained that the “travel in ques­tion was all within the guide­lines set out for MPs”.

He said his fo­cus in 2017 was de­liv­er­ing on prom­ises and con­tin­u­ing projects such as the For­rest­field-Air­port Link, Lath­lain Park and the Man­ning Road on­ramp south on to Kwinana Free­way.

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