OPINION: Review of MPs entitlements welcome

YOU may recall our story this week exposing a loop-hole which allowed our elected federal representatives to spend an extra $19 million on trying to get them re-elected at the past two elections.

Now, The Northern Star's parent company Australian Regional Media has decided to do something about it.

ARM has made an official submission to a parliamentary review looking into federal MPs' entitlements.

Our Canberra-based reporter Daniel Burdon did a great bit of leg work on this issue and found many MPs had used considerable amounts of their printing and communications entitlements in the few short weeks leading into the past two elections.

While it may sit within the definition of how this money can be spent, it certainly seems to give sitting members an unfair advantage against their political opponents in an election race.

And I am not sure the long-suffering Australian taxpayer should be footing the bill for this.

As ARM editorial director Bryce Johns pointed out in ARM's submission: "In the regional areas we cover, the MPs we investigated spent between 60% and, incredibly, 100% of their six-monthly entitlement during the six-week campaign periods of those election years."

Richmond MP Justine Elliot spent $166,621 on printing and communications during the past two election campaigns, while former Labor MP for Page Janelle Saffin spent $88,566 during the 2013 election campaign.

Interestingly, it didn't work for Saffin, who was unceremoniously dumped from office by Kevin Hogan of the Nationals.



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