03 August 2015


The Prime Minister has announced an inquiry into 'an independent parliamentary entitlements system' as a response to ongoing revelations about problematical claims by former Speaker Bronwyn Bishop.

The media release indicates that  David Tune AO PSM and  John Conde AO will co-chair a committee to "develop and propose models to deliver an independent parliamentary entitlements system", with a report in the first half of next year.
The Government believes an independent framework should be created to set and monitor parliamentary entitlements so that the system is more transparent and accountable.
The Government acknowledges that the ad hoc and piecemeal reforms adopted by successive governments mean the system is complex, ambiguous and out of step with community expectations. Rather than another series of changes that merely tinker at the edges of the system, it is time for fundamental reform aimed at inserting independence into the system that sets and monitors the use of parliamentary entitlements.
The objective will be to establish a workable system for authorising potentially contentious expenditure before it has occurred.
The committee will provide options for the creation of an independent parliamentary entitlements system. In developing options for independent oversight, the committee will consider:
  • Reducing ambiguity in what constitutes official business; 
  • Providing clarity to members of Parliament and their staff about their entitlements and how to use them appropriately; 
  • Improving transparency of the rules and entitlement usage; 
  • Acknowledging the role of party business in parliamentary business; 
  • How to deal more effectively with alleged misuse of entitlements; and 
  • How best to support and enable Members of Parliament to conduct their varied duties within clearly defined rules.
In considering this framework, the committee should also examine whether other senior officials, subject to Remuneration Tribunal determinations on salary and entitlements should also fall under a new independent system.
The committee will consider and present options to implement an independent parliamentary entitlements system.
In so doing, it will consider the operation and interaction of the current Remuneration Tribunal determinations and relevant Acts, Regulations, Ministerial determinations and Department of Finance rules and guidelines. It will give due consideration to the diverse nature of Australia’s federal constituencies and the different activities of Members and Senators.
The committee will look at international best practice across comparable parliamentary systems and will call for submissions from interested parties. This committee will be supported by a Secretariat in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.