Squabble over use of MP?s offices

By EMMA CORNFORD and SALLY GORDON

FEDERAL member for Page Ian Causley has been banned from using State member Steve Cansdell's office in Grafton.

The MP used a room in the fellow National Party member's office around once a month, but the clerk of the NSW parliament has told Mr Cansdell that Mr Causley is not allowed to use the room.

Mr Causley said the move was 'penalising the people of Grafton'.

"The State Government doesn't like the fact that we're (Causley and Cansdell) both National Party members but all they're doing is penalising the people," he said.

Mr Causley said he was of the attitude the electorate office was a taxpayer-funded office that could be used to serve the taxpayers of his electoral division.

But parliamentary guidelines stipulate the room is for the sole use of Mr Cansdell.

Mr Causley previously had an office in the Clarence and one in Lismore, but closed the Grafton office after the 1996 election. He said he would not consider renting an office in the Clarence using part of his annual $39,600 electoral allowance.

"That would mean taxpayers would have to pay for another office out of their pockets (because) the electoral allowance is ... generally for things like visiting smaller centres and other expenses like donations to organisations from time to time," he said.

Any of the allowance which remains unspent in the electorate can be pocketed by the member after being taxed.

Mr Cansdell said banning Mr Causley from using the office was an 'insult' to the people of the Clarence.

"It was just for people to be able to come in and talk to him face-to-face ... and normally he (Ian Causley) used the room while I was away anyway," he said.



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