Pay our politicians in cash III

There is an anti-Hockey piece in the Daily Telegraph – Joe Hockey gets paid to live at home while in Canberra:

JOE Hockey has defended his practice of claiming a $270-a-night taxpayer-funded travelling allowance to stay in a Canberra house majority-owned by his wife on the grounds that it is an entirely legitimate practice embraced by scores of Labor MPs.

I have absolutely no doubt that what he is doing is well within the rules that govern the scheme. So what?

The double dipping of MPs who claim travel allowance to stay in properties owned by themselves or their wives and in some cases reduce their tax by negatively gearing property is well-known in Canberra.

Let’s be clear – this isn’t a story about negative gearing either.

Paying people to live in their own property is the issue. This is worse than Nick Sherry who, at least, was paying his mother to live at her house.

The solution to this issue is that pay MPs a lump-sum in cash and have them organise their work travel and private lives in the exactly the same way every other person does. Travel to and from work is a private expense, and I doubt the ATO would let anyone else claim the away from home deduction if they were living in their own property (albeit away from family).

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55 Responses to Pay our politicians in cash III

  1. Ant

    Ah, the political class.

    So easy to pilfer the money out of the pockets of taxpayers without giving it a second thought and claim that they’re doing it for the people.

  2. Nato

    But wouldn’t that imply that pollies are employed to do a job? Like regular people?

  3. Sinclair Davidson

    Nato – Like regular the little people?

    Yep – couldn’t have that at all.

  4. notafan

    Administratively a cash amount for living away from home expenses based on renting an average house in Canberra, with CPI indexing would be much easier. The pollies would work out their best option, eg Brendan Nelson in the bungalow at the back of Joe’s place.

  5. Big_Nambas

    $700,000 to run the ABC. $500,000 to run Australia, go figure. Why do we sit back and expect people who can get $1,000,000 a year or more in the private sector to run for election into a job that pays between $180,000 and $520,000. You get what you pay for, chips and gravy $3.50. Fillet steak with salad $35.00 Get it?

  6. Sinclair Davidson

    Why do we sit back and expect people who can get $1,000,000 a year or more in the private sector to run for election into a job that pays between $180,000 and $520,000.

    Why do we want people who can earn $1 million to give up their value adding jobs to become politicians?

  7. Badjack

    Most people who invest in a second property rent or lease the property to others and receive an income from it. If the Politicians who owned second properties in Canberra did as the normal investor’s do they would rent or lease it it to another party and receive an income from that property. They would then be entitled to rent a property in Canberra for the time they were there as per normal and they would be reimbursed for that cast. I would have thought true Libertarians would see it as normal practice to make money out of their investment .

  8. A Lurker

    Birds of a feather…

  9. Infidel Tiger

    Now we have a $200,000,000,000 NBN, why do they even need to come to Canberra?

    A video conference once a year should suffice.

  10. Big_Nambas

    Why do we want people who can earn $1 million to give up their value adding jobs to become politicians

    So we don’t want the best? If I understand your comment it means that we want the most talented to stay in business, and the also rans to run the country. The USA pays their “leader” $300,000 and look what they have now. You always get what you pay for.

  11. Sinclair Davidson

    So we don’t want the best?

    Of course we want the best. Best for people earning $1 million a year to stay doing that and the people who can earn $200k – $520k to become politicians.

    I suspect our difference are due to me not believing that politicians “run” the country. The country runs itself, politicians make decisions about those goods and services that are best delivered via social choice (a very limited set).

  12. Peter from SA

    The solution to this issue is that pay MPs a lump-sum in cash and have them organise their work travel and private lives in the exactly the same way every other person does.

    Much like how doctors manage their medical practices.

  13. Infidel Tiger

    Put them on $50k base with incentives for meeting KPIs.

  14. cynical1

    The best people to run the country, wouldn’t have the job given….

  15. Ant

    Does anybody know what the rules are for pollies flying first class?

    I’ve been looking at flights with American Airlines and where economy is $2,100, first class is $21,000!

    If they are flying like that I can confess that I’ve never flown class but it appears I’ve paid for plenty of other people to do it.

  16. Grigory M

    Now we have a $200,000,000,000 NBN

    Holy crap – that’s it – I’m gonna sell my home and retire early. The value of my NBN connection alone will keep me in luxury for the rest of my life. :)

  17. Big_Nambas

    If I accept your position that Politicians don’t run the country, why do so many at Catallaxy spend so much time worrying about them? If their influence is so limited who cares? If politicians don’t have much to do with running the country how did Rudd/Gillard/Rudd destroy the place in 6 years?

  18. Sinclair Davidson

    Big_Nambas – you might have heard of “taxation” and “wasteful spending” at some stage?

  19. JC

    If I accept your position that Politicians don’t run the country, why do so many at Catallaxy spend so much time worrying about them? If their influence is so limited who cares? If politicians don’t have much to do with running the country how did Rudd/Gillard/Rudd destroy the place in 6 years?

    Are you allowed to walk the streets unsupervised?

  20. JC

    We actually argue they have far too much power and advocate stripping down, Big-dumbas, you fucking retard.

  21. Ant

    Great, another Leftie to BBQ.

    Numbnuts and Hammy we’re getting stale.

  22. JC

    Great, another Leftie to BBQ.

    Numbnuts and Hammy we’re getting stale.

    Leftie Central is now recruiting from Rehab hospitals for those with serious brain damage, after working their way through and exhausting sheltered work shops. The latest have been absolutely retarded. Big -Dumbass proves the point.

  23. Mitch

    Or the prime minister could just be a symbolic figurehead beyond representing the people of his/her own seat, and instead of appointing ministers out of a talent pool of politicians people with real world experience in each of the ministerial areas could take those roles. E.g. Noel Pearson as community services minister.

  24. Andrew

    Fact is, that will be unfair to the member for Kalgoorlie relative to an ACT senator.

    This article is a joke – that’s how the rules are, they have always been rorted by wives and colleagues. So be it. Putting in a “no related party” rule saves us nothing. We’re just giving oxygen to the leftist meeja to mislead low info voters.

  25. It’s irrelevant. There is plenty of opportunity to make more out of politics. None of it ethical, but it occurs nonetheless. KRudd made a big deal out of not making money out of politics while his wife latched her generous backside to the government teat by orders of magnitude.

    Whatever you do, you can’t create ethics out of people through money, either through its existence or absence. The promise of power, influence and the capacity to turn the country into the image of yourself is a vastly overriding factor.

    Make politics less rewarding by taking power away from politicians and bureaucrats and you’ll get people trying to do more with less, just like in the real world.

    Take the spoils of war off the table.

  26. boy on a bike

    This has been going on for, oh, probably 40 years. Had a relo who was a federal MP – they bought a house in partnership with a couple of other MPs and they all lived there happily together when they were in town. I guess most MPs do it. After a while, the idea of moving into a hotel on Sunday night (or Monday morning), living out of a suitcase and then packing and flying out again on Friday starts to pale – especially if you are in for the long haul and are facing that most weeks for 15 years or so. Much nicer to have a house where you can leave your suits and toothbrush and can actually sit down and eat dinner etc etc.

    In the old days, all the MPs stayed together at the Hotel Canberra (I think) – it was either there, or a boarding house. Until now, I don’t thing anyone has ever batted an eyelid at this practice.

    If you want to find out how widespread it is, ask how many MPs spend the week in a hotel or a serviced apartment. Many will claim to be renting, but if you dig deeper, you’ll probably find they are renting from another MP or a family member. ie, MP A buys a place and rents it to MP B. MP B buys a place and rents it to MP A. I’m sure there is a bit of that about.

    How does this differ from the private sector?

    Well, if a manager is offered a job in Canberra with the expectation that they will be there for 15 years, the company will pay them to relocate permanently. They don’t pay them an allowance to fly in-fly out. MPs can’t do that – they are supposed to live in (or at least near) their electorates and then commute to parliament.

  27. Ubique

    Claiming travelling allowance for staying in your own or house or that of a relative or a friend is fraud. I don’t give a rat’s arse how many pollies are doing it, it’s still fraud. The bastards should be reimbursed for actual travel expenses on production of receipts, all within a set daily limit. Simple, straight and fully accountable; and practised in most private enterprise and even within a GTE where I served as the chief executive.

  28. Habib

    Better still don’t pay them at all, it’s a part-time role, and anyone who needs to be paid to carry out such untaxing duties should be automatically disqualified from doing so.

  29. talleyrand

    So a millionaire’s husband and Treasurer Joe Hockey is billing the taxpayer an allowance for living in his own home in Canberra, and also receiving a capital gain on the home in question.
    If I went to live in my wife’s investment proprety in Sydney whilst commuting for work, I doubt I would remain employed without significant questiosn raised about rorting of my expenses.
    Politicians should have the same standards at least as their private industry peers, whose taxes are paying for that bloated rathole in Canberra

    Yes Joe, Kevin Rudd was in a similar circumstances. But please save us the auto-hagiographical story of the struggling migrant’s son made good. Assumedley Rudd claimed the same travel allowances, and claimed a tale of childhood woe to go with them.

  30. notafan

    I’m guessing there is a kind of house bingo happening in Canberra. They all have an interest in a property but Joe lives in Bill’s place and Bill lives in Mick’s place and Mike lives in Jack’s place and Jack lives in Joe’s and so on and so forth.
    Nope, not good enough.

  31. MartinG

    Big_Nambas
    #1420128, posted on August 17, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    $700,000 to run the ABC. $500,000 to run Australia, go figure.

    Who says $700,000 to run the ABC is based on merit? It’s a tax funded organization, so the salary level is not set by market forces.

    “$500,000 to run Australia, go figure.” Is that gross income? What about superannuation, and early access to fore said. Of course there are other perks such as PPL that isn’t, nor should be available to private sector workers. I’m sure without looking too hard other perks of office could be found.

    Why do we sit back and expect people who can get $1,000,000 a year or more in the private sector to run for election into a job that pays between $180,000 and $520,000.

    I doubt any politician could earn $1,000,000 a year in the private sector without using their parliamentary experiences to pull strings and game the system.

    You get what you pay for, chips and gravy $3.50. Fillet steak with salad $35.00 Get it?

    Nice throw away line. I prefer, you pay politicians peanuts and get monkeys, pay them big money and the end up with fat greedy monkeys.

  32. Dr. Sir Fred Lenin

    Someone used a real Oxymoron,” a pool of talented politicians” this I presume refers to a swimming pool? Though what politicians are talented? Two bob sleazy lawyers,dodgy union officials,party aparatchiks,wheres the talent there? They should live in Army Barracks while in canberra,and be paid by results.

  33. MartinG

    JOE Hockey has defended his practice of claiming a $270-a-night taxpayer-funded travelling allowance to stay in a Canberra house majority-owned by his wife on the grounds that it is an entirely legitimate practice embraced by scores of Labor MPs.

    Under normal circumstances $270-a-night travelling allowance would have to be justified by expense receipts.

    The double dipping of MPs who claim travel allowance to stay in properties owned by themselves or their wives and in some cases reduce their tax by negatively gearing property is well-known in Canberra.

    This appears on face value to contravene tax office rulings about living in or occupying a negatively geared property. This would depend on who the investor is, and who the tenant is. The $270-a-night or a portion of it should be declared as rental income.

    This is why there should be no unjustified expense allowances granted to politicians or senior staff.

  34. MartinG

    talleyrand
    #1420275, posted on August 17, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    So a millionaire’s husband and Treasurer Joe Hockey is billing the taxpayer an allowance for living in his own home in Canberra, and also receiving a capital gain on the home in question.

    If so he is committing tax fraud under normal circumstances. There may be special rules regarding politicians or the allowance may be not need to be justified under parliamentary rules.

  35. JOE Hockey has defended his practice of claiming a $270-a-night taxpayer-funded travelling allowance to stay in a Canberra house majority-owned by his wife on the grounds that it is an entirely legitimate practice embraced by scores of Labor MPs.

    CRAIG Thomson has defended his practice of spending $500 a night on hookers using the Union provided credit card on the grounds that it is an entirely legitimate practice embraced by scores of Labor MPs

    The stupid, It burns.

  36. blogstrop

    and also receiving a capital gain on the home in question.
    Husbands and wives are assessed separately for tax purposes. If there’s a capital gain it will be mainly hers.

  37. wreckage

    “Majority owned” So actually it’s a share house.

    What bullshit.

    End the circus: cash payment. No more questions, no more of this total bullshit masquerading as news.

  38. A H

    I’ve got a better idea. Not only remove all allowances, but also remove all pay, and, on top of that, make MPs pay an monthly fee to stay in parliament.

  39. Andrew

    If it’s such a lucrative deal for the owner, why not have the govt invest in serviced apartments of suitable quality. The FIFO mining crowd provides accom, why not the govt? Then noone profits.

    The thing I don’t want to happen is that members in rural electorates are penalised (the same argument about travelling to work – this isn’t the same situation as the private sector, and FIFO workers are NOT expected to meet their own flight costs weekly anyhow) while the Green-left extremist scum living in Canberra already and getting elected as the Sen8rs for ACT benefit to the tune of $267 a day – the allowance, less the 2 bus tickets to get to and from. That would be morally repugnant.

  40. sabrina

    Malcolm Turnbul did that as well few years ago, if I remember correctly, staying in wife-owned apartment.
    I think Joe desperately needs that allowance in order to continue heavy lifting for the country. This is small amount, ~18000 per year. Only leaners like Sinc are winging (sarc.)
    Labor MPs do it, so Libs doing it is not wrong; moreover it is not against the rules. What an argument comning from someone trained as a lawyer. How can we have any respect for pollies in this country?

  41. Squirrel

    “notafan

    #1420125, posted on August 17, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Administratively a cash amount for living away from home expenses based on renting an average house in Canberra, with CPI indexing would be much easier. The pollies would work out their best option, eg Brendan Nelson in the bungalow at the back of Joe’s place.”

    and the alternative could be a non-transferable, non-refundable voucher to stay at a mid-range hotel/motel within a reasonable distance of Parliament House. The Department of Finance could do a bulk deal with suitable Canberra/Queanbeyan hotels/motels.

    More generally, it would be better to cut out as many as possible of the special conditions, lurks/perks etc. available to politicians and bump up the salary – particularly for Ministers – accordingly. That would save on administration, reduce the temptations for naughtiness, and might help to address the anomaly of officials being paid more than the Ministers they answer to.

  42. Notafan

    Its not tax fraud as they are living away from their principal residence and the ruling says that it is treated as fully expended when the conditions are met.
    You only have to substantiate if you want to claim tax deductions over the value of the allowance.
    There is opportunity in most travel allowances that are paid in this way for the employee to ‘profit ‘
    It’s probably based on the Canberra hotel rate but if the recipient choses to stay in his mate’s shed he can pocket the savings.
    Otherwise everyone would just stay in the hotel and the employer would be no better off.

  43. struth

    267 bucks is more tban his salary should be a day………
    A man in politics who really believes e eryone is nice and he has no enemies…
    Thick thick thick.
    he must have been a sexy blonde in another life.

  44. candy

    It would be interesting to know what expenses Clive Palmer claims. On the other hand, he doesn’t attend the parliament very often at all (but takes his salary).

  45. Rich

    Why do we sit back and expect people who can get $1,000,000 a year or more in the private sector to run for election into a job that pays between $180,000 and $520,000. You get what you pay for, chips and gravy $3.50. Fillet steak with salad $35.00 Get it?

    I’d counter that I could get the same quality steak for $25, or $250 – the product is often irrelevant

    Just because someone earns a lot in the private sector doesn’t make them able politicians – I’m sure we can all think of plenty of people on more who either don’t deserve it or have highly sought after skills that don’t translate to leadership

  46. Rich

    MartinG

    So a millionaire’s husband and Treasurer Joe Hockey is billing the taxpayer an allowance for living in his own home in Canberra, and also receiving a capital gain on the home in question.

    If so he is committing tax fraud under normal circumstances. There may be special rules regarding politicians or the allowance may be not need to be justified under parliamentary rules.

    I don’t think he’s claiming the travel as a tax deduction – it’s an employer-paid allowance, the employer just happens to be the taxpayer

    He/his wife should also be declaring the payment as taxable income, offset against the house expenses

    All pretty standard – the issue is the allowance itself, as Sinc says, just give them cash and let them work out their own arrangements so they can’t game a system

  47. candy

    All pretty standard – the issue is the allowance itself, as Sinc says, just give them cash and let them work out their own arrangements so they can’t game a system

    That’s sounds a bit silly Martin. People don’t go around with wads of cash for expenses these days. It’s dangerous and cumbersome. We’re moving towards a cashless society, not going away from it.

  48. MartinG

    candy
    #1420586, posted on August 17, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    All pretty standard – the issue is the allowance itself, as Sinc says, just give them cash and let them work out their own arrangements so they can’t game a system

    That’s sounds a bit silly Martin. People don’t go around with wads of cash for expenses these days. It’s dangerous and cumbersome. We’re moving towards a cashless society, not going away from it.

    Are you attributing the bolded part of this message to me? If so it ain’t my woyds.

    What I do question is how that allowance can be used for a negativly geared property owned by a wife and or a husband, when one of them is not allowed to take up residence….I think.

  49. DaveA

    I don’t believe Australia has a dearth of qualified people willing to step forward and shape their nation even if it does mean ‘only’ earning 200-300k a year. We aren’t all money obsessed assholes (see volunteers).

    Quite possibly higher financial rewards attract the wrong kind of people.

  50. johanna

    The point is, BOAB, that in the real world people have to substantiate their expenses with receipts. $267 per day, tax free, with no need to explain a thing? Any Australian who is not an MP could only dream of such an arrangement, unless they are the CEO or a senior executive of a wealth-producing, tax-paying corporation.

    And, as others have pointed out, it is ludicrous to equate the dislocation and disadvantage of an MP from the ACT, Sydney or Melbourne with that of one from the far reaches of Queensland or WA.

  51. Bribiejohn

    There is a twisted logic involved in this kind of “legitimate” scamming, and there is no moral, or ethical justification for it, no matter what weasel words are used.

    Why do politicians wonder about the cynicism towards them by their constituents when behaving in such an unprincipled manner? Just because they can?

  52. youngster

    This is just the annual beat-up about politicians expenses. If a politician needs to be away from home as part of their job, and I would have thought attending Parliament would satisfy that criteria, they get a travelling allowance to cover their accommodation and food. No one would bat an eyelid if the Treasurer stayed at a Rydges or Novotel at $250-300 a night and claimed re-imbursement, given that’s what thousands of employees from thousands of companies do every day. Instead, he uses his travelling allowance wisely. The net result for the taxpayer is the same.

  53. This is just the annual beat-up about politicians expenses.

    As a new politician, I can confirm that. Sinclair has a legitimate complaint about the competence and decisions made by politicians, but picking on their travel allowance is pointless.

    I’ve spent much of my life travelling for business and I am yet to find a company that pays its staff a lump sum for their travel. Expenses are either reimbursed on an actual cost basis, or paid on a per diem basis. The latter is what we receive as politicians. As it requires minimal bureaucracy to administer, I think it’s the better option.

    As for not staying in hotels, that’s a no brainer. I was over hotels before I started this job.

  54. Clive 4 Evah

    It would be interesting to know what expenses Clive Palmer claims.

    He would only claim what he was entitled to and not a cent more, as befitting a man of his legendary integrity.

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