OPINION: Do federal pollies’ perks pass the pub test?

A graphic doing the rounds on social media that appears to have originated from the Queensland Greens.

A graphic doing the rounds on social media that appears to have originated from the Queensland Greens.

There’s been a lot of talk this week about political entitlements.

It’s not a new conversation, and one assumes it’s not the last we’ll hear of it – regardless of which major party takes the chair.

Just what should a politician be “entitled” to?

To purchase investment properties on a taxpayer-funded trip to the Gold Coast? Don’t think so.

To charter a helicopter for an 80km flight to a Liberal Party function at a cost of $5000. Nuh-uh.

How about representing us constituents to the best of your abilities, advocating for spending on health, education, job creation, housing affordability, roads and infrastructure?

These are the issues that really matter to the taxpayers politicians are taking for a ride whenever they jet first-class around the country (and globe) to represent our interests at New Year’s parties, sporting matches and political donor functions.

One wonders what level of spending – and on what it is spent – would pass the “pub test”?

In the first six months of 2016, then-Liberal MP for Eden-Monaro Peter Hendy spent $206,000 of political entitlements.

The median weekly income in the Bega Valley is $848 ($44,096pa), which in itself is less than the NSW median of $1237/wk ($64,324pa). Across Eden-Monaro, the weekly median rises to $1022 ($53,144pa).

Dr Hendy’s spend is by no means the highest among his federal colleagues. It’s also not the lowest.

But in essence he spent more than four times the average annual income of Bega district residents on entitlements inside of six months.

I know there’s no way I’d want to be a politician. Relentless travel, daily meetings, high expectations on promises and results, burdensome office and administrative costs – and continual public scrutiny of any dollars spent on them. (Actually wait, that’s starting to sound a little familiar...)

Who would want that job?

I wouldn’t mind their pay packet though!

There are some entitlement claims we certainly wouldn’t begrudge Dr Hendy – or any other politician for that matter. Between January 4 and February 7 last year he spent $36.36 on copies of the Bega District News, Merimbula News Weekly, Eden Magnet and Bombala Times.

Thanks for the support! 

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