Letter to the Editor-Thursday,October 10:Allowances clear-cut

FRED Perring (DEX, October 2013) quotes Malcolm Turnbull on the alleged vagueness of rules concerning travelling allowances available to federal parliamentarians.

I don't think the rules are in any way ambiguous, as is seen by Clause 3.12 of the Remuneration Tribunal's August 2012 determination:

"Travelling allowance shall be payable to a senator or member for each overnight stay in a place other than his or her home base when that stay is occasioned primarily by:

(a) sittings of the House of Parliament or direct travel to or from such sittings; or

(b) meetings of or the formal business of parliamentary committees of which he or she is a member or direct travel to or from such meetings; or

(c) attendance at functions representing a Minister or a Presiding Officer on official business as a Minister or Presiding Officer, or direct travel to or from such functions, provided the Minister or Presiding Officer nominates the function in advance in a written request to the senator or member to represent him or her; or

(d) meetings in Canberra of his or her parliamentary political party, of its executive or of its committees (see clause 1.5.2) or direct travel to or from such meetings; or

(e) meetings of his or her parliamentary political party executive (see clause 1.5.2) outside Canberra or direct travel to or from such meetings; or

(f) meetings, other than in Canberra, of a parliamentary political party, or of its executive, or of its committees, attendance at the national and state conferences of a political party, of which he or she is a member (see clause 1.5.2), and meetings outside the electorate on electorate business up to a maximum of ten overnight stays per annum in total, and direct travel to or from such meetings or conferences; or

(g) attendance at official government, parliamentary or vice-regal functions; or

(h) meetings of a non-statutory body which a senator or member has been nominated to attend by resolution of either House, where the senator or member performs duties principally as a representative or alternate representative, of the Parliament; or

(i) attendance at properly constituted meetings of a Government advisory committee or task force provided that the senator or member is a member of the committee or task force."

The Department Of Finance defines official business for the purpose of plane, train, hire car/taxi travel entitlement as attendance at: "properly constituted meetings of a Government advisory committee or task force provided that the Senator or Member is a member of the committee or task force; and functions representing a Minister or a Presiding Officer on official business as a Minister or Presiding Officer, provided that the Minister or Presiding Officer nominates the function in advance in a written request to the Senator or Member to represent him or her."

It is plain to see that there is no leeway for expenses associated with high-profile weddings, off-the-record meetings with journalists, birthday parties, winter holidays or ironman events.

Sincerely,
Judith M. Melville



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