Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Joe Hockey's 'living away from home' entitlements - why aren't we more upset by this?

The Bishop scandal has nearly blown over, but I want to draw attention back to the ongoing abuse of 'entitlements'. I suspect most politicians will tread carefully for a while, but without some form of accountability, I doubt there will be a long-term change in attitude.

But why aren't we more upset by Hockey's taxpayer funded accommodation in Canberra? Whatever the numbers, the facts seem to be as follows:

  • Hockey owned a house in Canberra, which at some stage, he transferred to his wife (or to a company run by his wife). 
  • He claims 'living away from home' expenses, which he uses to pay his wife (or his wife's company) rent. 
  • The effect is that he is renting from his wife, and the taxpayer is paying the rent. 
I have said before that politicians should be given privileges associated with their office. They SHOULD be able to travel around their electorate to meet people, attend official functions, They should also be able to live comfortably when they are away from home, and a 'living away from home' allowance is most appropriate. 

But this just stinks. I am certain that it is within the rules, but can anyone say that it feels right? To me, it feels morally insidious, and I can't believe that we aren't screaming about this from the roof-tops!

I am not certain that 'rules' can fix it. I do think that integrity could. The 'living away from home' allowance, or indeed ANY allowance or privilege shouldn't ever be used to profit the person, or their associates. They or their family (or their political party, Bronnie...) shouldn't be better off because of the privileges. 

I don't see things changing, and that is depressing. 

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