MPs expenses to be released after deputy PM’s $3.6m in VIP flights

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Politicians’ expenses will be made public from Wednesday following months of criticism by Greens and teal MPs about Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles’ use of special purpose flights which the government said could not be revealed because of security concerns.

The government blamed the lack of information about MP’s travel expenses on an IT bungle that dated back to the previous government but said the publicly funded costs would start to be released in a bid to restore transparency and integrity to the system.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

In a statement on Wednesday, Special Minister of State Don Farrell said parliamentary expenses will be published starting with the July-September 2022 reporting period.

“This will be followed by a fast-tracked schedule of reporting, until all parliamentary expenses are up to date,” Farrell’s statement said.

The reports will be published on the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority website and parliamentarians and their staff will be given the opportunity to check and certify reports before they are made public.

Marles in August controversially refused to reveal his flights on VIP aircraft, which cost over $3.6 million.

Documents released under freedom of information laws, obtained by NSW Greens senator David Shoebridge, showed Marles was involved in a decision, ratified in March, to prohibit the release of information detailing where government VIP planes flew and who was on board.

The decision was made based on official security advice, according to the government.

MPs’ expenses were last published in 2022, shortly before the election of the Albanese government.

Since its election Labor has said an ongoing IT issue meant it was unlikely a full breakdown of Marles’ or any other politician’s travel expenses would be published.

In September, the Greens and the Coalition moved in the Senate to order the release of government documents that show the dates and costs of every flight as well as their origins and destinations.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie joined with teal MPs to demand more transparency on politicians’ expenses.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie united with six teal MPs to express their disappointment in the government on transparency and offered to self-publish their own expenses. Coalition defence spokesman Andrew Hastie challenged Marles by asking if he had “taken his golf clubs” on any of the government aircrafts.

Farrell said in his statement the system had never functioned as intended and the complaints across the parliament had been consistent since it began in 2018.

“From opposition we raised hundreds of questions, over successive years, including repeated questioning at Senate estimates – all of which, fell on deaf ears,” Farrell said.

“In coming to office, we not only commenced work to fix the system, but proactively referred the project to the Australian National Audit Office for review. We expect the outcomes of that review in the new year.”

More to come.

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