So Tony, how hard can it be?
There has been much discussion over the last week or so about the guidelines for expenses, and how they are somewhat open to interpretation… WTF?
Now when someone like Bananaby Juice, who has the mental capacity of a house brick, can defend the indefensible by stating that he actually saved taxpayers money by hitching a ride with that doyen of benevolence Gina “My kids are ungrateful little shits” Rinehart, we know that there is something definitely wrong with the guidelines, and something even more wrong about Bananaby.
The truth is we all would have been better off, and the taxpayers could have been saved even more money, had his return flight request not only been refused, but if he had been refused re-entry into Australia as well 😯
But I digress 😯
When all is said and done, these issues should not present a moral dilemma for someone who actually has morals:
- Should I claim expenses for getting invited to a private wedding where I will have food and drinks supplied, even if there will be other politicians or journalists there, that also know the bride and/or groom? NO!
- Should I claim expenses for electoral work, even though the electorate is thousands of klm’s away, while coincidentally purchasing an investment property while I’m there? WTF?… NO!
- Should I claim expenses for doing charity work? NO!
- Should I claim expenses for my hobbies? NO!
- Should I claim expenses for going on a self promotional tour? NO!
- Should I claim expenses for my book collection and the bookcase to put them in? NO!
- Should I claim for a weekend trip to Melbourne for a parliamentary sitting day, when parliament neither sits in Melbourne, nor on a weekend? NO!
Now I understand that mistakes can be, and are, made from time to time, but is it a mistake to claim expenses incurred whilst attending a colleagues wedding, or is it a rort?
Is it a mistake to claim work entitlements when, as leader of a major political party, and PM aspirant, you are setting the example by claiming expenses for a self promotional tour to sell your book, or to justify a claim made for a fun run by stating that it was held in a marginal seat, and therefore official business? And the list goes on.
So are these mistakes, or are they blatant attempts to rort the system for the sake of personal financial advantage?
Are these cases of not understanding the rules pertaining to expense claims, or are they clear cases of taking advantage of a level of ambiguity to make spurious claims, that if questioned, can be excused as a mistake and paid back with no further recourse for the perpetrator?
Most fair minded people would say that legitimate work expense claims are fine, but for instance; could a plumber claim expenses for going to a wedding because he used a toilet, or a tap, or because other plumbers were there?
The question is; should we, the punters, be able to make a claim for any event where we associate with colleagues, talk about our jobs/careers, or do anything remotely connected with work?
Is the fact that an electorate is a marginally held seat, reason enough for the tax payers to foot the bill, when many would argue that if a corporation or party want to bolster their market share in a particular area, that should be at the expense of the corporation or party, as they are the ones to reap the rewards of a bigger market share.
But the truth is that the main issues related to expenses rorting are rarely about mistakes, but more often than not, a wilful attempt to defraud the tax payers of this country with spurious claims that are submitted with the view that if they get away with it, they’re in front, and if they get caught with their snouts in the trough, they can just pay it back, no questions asked.
But questions are being asked, and answers should be demanded!
This conversation invariably throws up the ex Speaker and MP, Peter Slipper as an example, and when the same loose criteria is applied, that is used to justify some of the aforementioned claims, one has to wonder why an amount of less than $1000.00 is referred to the AFP, when literally $$$$ have been claimed and subsequently paid back by other MP’s under the Minchin protocol, with no questions asked.
And apart from the breach of taking a Com car across state boundaries, could it not be argued that while visiting the wineries, he talked politics and met with small business owners to discuss their needs and concerns? Just saying!
For me the most telling thing about all this, is that these people are our elected representatives, and have a responsibility to act in an honest, fair and decent manner, and in making these spurious claims, further erode what little, if any, trust and confidence we still have in our politicians.
These spurious claims, at best, show a distinct lack of judgement on the part of the politicians involved, and at worst show what a bunch of morally bankrupt crooks these self serving politicians really are. 😯
I would suggest that a strong distinction has to be enforced between honest mistakes, which can happen, and the wilful exploitation of expense claims, with a charge of “Intent to defraud” as the ultimate end game for the worst and most expensive serial offenders. (Tony Abbott, I’m looking at you!)
So while the rest of the workers in this country have to settle for sticking to the rules when it comes to claiming tax refunds, and using expense accounts, why is it that there is no will to more clearly define valid expense claims, for politicians, so that those that are devoid of a moral compass can easily determine whether a claim is spurious or legitimate, and that penalties can be applied to those that blatantly abuse their positions for personal gain or advantage.
And for someone who spent the last few years crying foul over waste, while being the worst perpetrator, and the leader of a party that is seen as taking trough snouting to a whole new level. And with no political will to change the status quo, despite the public outcry, and with claims of ambiguity over the rules, one has to wonder why they wont just rewrite the rules , cos for someone with a platform of stopping the waste, the question for the Abbott is;
So Tony, how hard can it be?