Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says it is crucial to explore the options for a federal anti-corruption watchdog as part of reforms around parliamentary expenditure.
Liberal MP Sussan Ley resigned from Cabinet last week amid an ongoing investigation into her travel claims, which included billing taxpayers to attend two New Year’s Eve events hosted by a prominent Queensland businesswoman and donor.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a new compliance body to oversee parliamentary expenses following her resignation, which Mr Shorten has given in-principle support to.
But the Opposition Leader said reform needed to go further and examine both the parliamentarians’ entitlements and political donations systems.
“For me, reform doesn’t just stop at parliamentarians’ expenses,” he said.
“It must include greater transparency [and] greater accountability on political donations.
“No discussion about electoral reform and rebuilding the confidence of Australians in the political process can take place without having an open and honest discussion about a federal ICAC [Independent Commission Against Corruption].”
‘Reputation of politics has been damaged’
Mr Shorten said the recent coverage of the entitlements system had damaged the “reputation of politics”.
Speaking before the election in June, the Labor leader said he would support “reconvening the Senate committee investigating the value and the benefit and the pros and cons of a national integrity commission”.
He made similar comments six months later about supporting a “Senate inquiry looking at the efficiency of these bodies”.
Mr Turnbull last week pledged greater transparency and timeliness in the revamped system, which he said would be based on a UK model.
The UK introduced changes to expense reporting in 2009 after a long-running expenses scandal, establishing the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.
Crossbench Senator Nick Xenophon has already flagged his intention to reintroduce a bill next month that would mean harsher penalties for breaches of politicians’ entitlement rules.
Senator Xenophon, who first introduced the bill in 2015, said the current rules were “like being slapped with a wet piece of lettuce”.
Explore MP expenditure
Explore how much your local politician spent from January 1 to July 30 in 2016 with our interactive chart.
The chart is organised by type of expense, ordered from the politician with the most expenses claimed to the least.
Some past politicians will also appear, having lodged prior expenses with the Department of Finance during the six-month period.