Another day, another travel scandal. Bronwyn Bishop was forced to resign as speaker for her use of a chopper, but this is just the latest example of year after year of abuse.
Mark Dreyfus used taxpayer funds for a family ski trip in 2013. Julia Gillard had taxpayers pay for a VIP jet to attend a friends wedding. Just today we learned that Tony Burke MP used taxpayer funds for a family holiday to Uluru - his whole family spending over $6,000 of our taxes to travel business class. Today we learned that Greens Senators Scott Ludlum spent over $11,000 to attend a protest. The list goes on and on and on.
And every time we are promised that the problem will be fixed. The rules will be changed. A new code will be introduced. Things will be different.
And nothing ever changes.
The reason is simple: Our politicians love free stuff, and will do everything they can to keep it. Loopholes will always be found, rules will be twisted, and travel will be within the letter of the law while totally missing its spirit.
A new bureaucracy of administrators or slightly changed rules can never change that. GetUp’s proposed travel “pledge” – while admirable in its intention – will never change that.
Even more scary is that these are only the cases we have found out about. For every one the media spotted, there are doubtlessly dozens more we never caught.
There is only one thing that can break our politicians’ age of entitlement: Full openness, transparency and accountability to the Australian people. It is only when voters know how every cent is our money is being spent, that we can be assured it will be spent properly. And this is what our campaign will achieve.
The solution is simple: Require every politician and their staff to publish online their travel, its cost, and its purpose, within 7 days of it being taken. Create an easy to use online portal where every Australian voter can see what his MP and Senator has been doing, and if it is a wise use of funds.
Let 22 million Australians be the judge of what is right – and what is wrong. It is our money, and we have the right to know where it is going without having to submit expensive Freedom of Information requests, read through hundreds of pages of budget documents, or hope someone in the media will spot a story.
By allowing public scrutiny, politicians will have to justify their travel not just to bureaucrats or their fellow politicians, but to taxpayers. As result, extravagant travel and abuse will plummet. They might be able to fool their peers, but they won’t be able to fool their voters.
The technology for such a portal has existed for close to a decade - in fact, an independent review commissioned for the Department of Finance suggested it back in 2010! It will be cheap to set up, and will lead to better government through ending abuse and corruption.
When bringing in legislation to allow the government to spy on everything we do online, we were assured - if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. The same rule should now apply to our politicians. If they have nothing to hide, then they should welcome this campaign without question.
Please join our campaign by emailing your local MP and Senators’ through our form below and demand action.
And why stop at just travel? Countries all over the world have implemented transparency portals for every government department, saving millions of dollars in waste spotted by vigilant citizens. Why can't we do the same here? For more information on transparency portals, please visit www.taxpayers.org.au/transparency.
Opening the books to scrutiny is the only way to make a difference. At the end of the day, we pay for their travel and we have a right to know what they do with it. It’s as simple as that.
So contact your MP and Senators today - and make a real difference.