Published: 10 January 2017
When will pollies stop splurging with taxpayer money?
Nick Xenophon getting ready to crackdown on entitled pollies.
Image © 2016 AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
At least two senators will renew their push to clean up entitlements for federal politicians when parliament returns next month.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale and crossbencher Nick Xenophon have vowed to reintroduce legislation this year after Sussan Ley stood aside as health minister pending an investigation into taxpayer-funded trips to Queensland.
Ms Ley is facing two inquiries over travels to the Gold Coast, including for two New Year's Eve celebrations at the invitation of businesswoman Sarina Russo.
It's also been revealed four ministers billed taxpayers almost $7000 to attend a private NYE function hosted by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2015.
Among them were Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Attorney-General George Brandis, according to SBS.
Senator Xenophon first drafted laws to overhaul the rules around expenses two years ago but failed to get them passed.
He wants an independent watchdog to oversee the system, real-time disclosure of claims, and harsher penalties for those who exploit the rules. However, some of what these politicians are doing is not actually illegal. They are using the rules on expenditure to their full advantage, but at the expense of tax payers.
"I'd like to think that there'll be a keener interest on the part of my colleagues on both sides from the major parties to consider this seriously because clearly what they've done to date doesn't work," he told ABC radio on Tuesday.
"This is why so many Australians hate so many politicians."
Senator Di Natale said the scandal around Ms Ley reinforced the need for a federal anti-corruption watchdog, which he proposes would include an independent parliamentary adviser to help make decisions on entitlement claims and audit them when necessary.
He believes most MPs do the right thing, but some don't and it's undermining Australia's democracy.
"We'll continue to see these scandals if we don't get serious about this," Senator Di Natale told the ABC.