News National Pollies ‘positively stink now’

Pollies ‘positively stink now’

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Independent Senator Nick Xenophon is confident politicians won’t be able charter helicopters to attend party functions under his proposed changes to the system that governs their entitlements.

Senator Xenophon on Thursday introduced a private bill to crack down on how politicians can use taxpayer funds, declaring the age of unaccountable entitlements over if it passes.

The bill requires MPs to submit monthly reports of their expenses and imposes a double to quadruple pay-back fee if entitlements are wrongly claimed.

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The Commonwealth Ombudsman would act as an independent umpire of the claims and would be given stronger powers to crack down on misuse of funds.

Senator Xenophon says the system needs urgent reform.

“If pollies were on the nose a couple of months ago, we positively stink now,” he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday, referring to the furore surrounding the travel claims that led to the resignation of Bronwyn Bishop as Speaker.

“I don’t think there will be too many charters of helicopters… with these rules.”

Earlier, the South Australian said he was prepared to lose parliamentary friends over the issue.

“As (former Labor leader) Bill Hayden once said: In politics there’s no such things as friends, just passing acquaintances, and I even have fewer passing acquaintances,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Palmer United Party will set up its own inquiry into entitlements, separate from parliament.

Former South Australian ombudsman Garry Collins will chair the inquiry, leader Clive Palmer announced on Thursday.

It’s expected to start in September and submissions will be invited from all Australians.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced a review of the parliamentary entitlements system following Mrs Bishop’s resignation, which will report back next year.

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