Changes will be made to the parliamentary entitlements system within the next six months, Acting Special Minister of State Kelly O’Dwyer says.
Crossbench politicians have been calling for reform after the temporary suspension of Health Minister Sussan Ley from the frontbench amid an investigation into her travel expenses.
Ms O’Dwyer would not be drawn on Ms Ley’s political future, citing the investigation, and instead highlighted the 36 recommendations of a recent review into the entitlements system.
She said the Government had accepted in principle all the recommendations and was already working implementing them.
“There have been 36 recommendations, probably the most significant of which is looking at what is parliamentary official business,” she said.
“A clear definition of what official business is is obviously at the centre of the changes that need to be made, and will be made, by the Government in order to give the Australian people confidence that their hard-earned taxpayer dollars are respected and they can have confidence in the system.”
The review, instigated by former prime minister Tony Abbott, found politicians were “undermining public confidence” and called for travel arrangements to present value for money.
Ms O’Dwyer’s comments follow those made by Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan earlier today.
Senator Canavan told the ABC the rules needed to be tightened.
“It does need to be streamlined, it does need to be strengthened,” he said.
Key crossbench senator Nick Xenophon will also reintroduce a bill next month that would mean harsher penalties for breaches of politicians’ entitlement rules.
Senator Xenophon’s push to tighten the system was rejected by the Coalition and Labor in 2015.