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Parliamentary Entitlements Amendment (Ending the Rorts) Bill 2017

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2017

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parliamentary Entitlements Amendment (Ending the Rorts) Bill 2017

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

and

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circulated by authority of

Andrew Wilkie MP

 

 

 

 

 

Parliamentary Entitlements Amendment (Ending the Rorts) Bill 2017

 

 

OUTLINE

 

This bill seeks to provide greater accountability and transparency in the administration of Members of Parliament and Senators’ work expenses. It responds to significant community concern about the recent misuse of work expenses by a number of parliamentarians. The bill provides for a retrospective audit of all Members’ and Senators’ travel claims from the period following the 2013 federal election to the present and requires annual audits to take place in the future. It requires parliamentarians to list the substantive activities - both work-related and personal - undertaken on official travel so the public can have confidence that Commonwealth-funded travel is being undertaken in accordance with both the law and community expectations. It also provides a mechanism for law enforcement agencies to be contacted when there has been misuse of work expenses.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The bill will have no financial impact.

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Clause 1: Short Title

 

1.       This clause is a formal provision and specifies the short title of the Bill as the Parliamentary Entitlements Amendment (Ending the Rorts) Bill 2017.

 

Clause 2: Commencement

 

2.       This clause provides for the commencement of the Act on the day it receives Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3: Schedules

 

3.       This clause establishes that, as the intent of the Bill is to be realised through amendments to another Act, the Schedules of this Bill will amend that Act accordingly.

 

Schedule 1

 

Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990

 

Item 1 - After section 9

 

1.       Item 1 inserts a section 9AA into the Act which contains the three substantive measures of this bill.

2.       Section 9AA(1) and 9AA(2) require Members and Senators, when claiming any benefit in relation to the cost of travel (for example a travel allowance claim) to provide details of any Parliamentary, electorate or official business undertaken while on the travel as well as any substantial private business. They will be required to provide a description of the business undertaken as well as an assessment of how much time was spent undertaking the business.

3.       Section 9AA(3) requires the audit body (which is defined in section 9AA(6)) to publish these details as soon as practicable after the claim is made.

4.       Section 9AA(4) provides for an annual audit, as soon as practicable after the end of each financial year, of parliamentarians’ travel.

5.       Section 9AA(5) provides for a retrospective audit of all parliamentarians’ travel from 8 September 2013 (the day following the 2013 federal election) to the day the Act receives Royal Assent.

6.       Section 9AA(6) defines the “audit body” as either the Secretary of the Department of Finance or the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority. This is to allow the measures in the bill to be implemented immediately if it were to receive Royal Assent before legislation to establish the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority receives Royal Assent.

7.       Sections 9AA(7) and 9AA(8) require the audit body to publish a report of the audits referred to in sections 9AA(4) and 9AA(5) on their website and give a copy to the Special Minister of State, who must then table the report in Parliament within 15 days.

8.       Section 9AA(9) requires the audit body to report to the appropriate law enforcement agency any offence that may have been committed in relation to the claim or receipt of a benefit in relation to the cost of travel, if the audit body has reasonable grounds to suspect an offence may have been committed.



STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Parliamentary Entitlements Amendment (Ending the Rorts) Bill 2017

 

This bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the bill

 

This bill seeks to provide greater accountability and transparency in the administration of Members of Parliament and Senators’ work expenses. It responds to significant community concern about the recent misuse of work expenses by a number of parliamentarians. The bill provides for a retrospective audit of all Members’ and Senators’ travel claims from the period following the 2013 federal election to the present and requires annual audits to take place in the future. It requires parliamentarians to list the substantive activities - both work-related and personal - undertaken on official travel so the public can have confidence that Commonwealth-funded travel is being undertaken in accordance with both the law and community expectations. It also provides a mechanism for law enforcement agencies to be contacted when there has been misuse of work expenses.

 

Human rights implications

 

This bill does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms. 

 

Conclusion

 

This bill is compatible with human rights because it does not raise any human rights issues.

 

 

 

 

Andrew Wilkie MP