YPZ4CYC

By Rosie Williams

1 November 2013

Source: InfoAus

What do you, I and US Secretary of State John Kerry have in common? We are all protagonists of grassroots activism. You can’t have democracy without the demos and I heard John Kerry tell of the grassroots activism leading to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency this morning during his hookup livestreamed to theOpen Government Partnership Summit.

To begin with I wasn’t sure what a ‘Plenary Session’ was or if this was for me, but as the event unfolded I heard from an Estonian who created legislative change through crowdsourced policy consultations, a Romanian who cut down on the nepotism rampant in government hiring simply through publishing jobs on an independent website, all while I was tweeting out requests for people to take my one-question survey on the policy choices to address pollie travel rorts.  I realised I was part of an international movement toward open government and that I was crowdsourcing engagement in policy making for Australians.

You have not missed out! The survey will remain open at ExpenseAus, the database that I have created where you can examine politicians entitlements spending.

Citizens Against Rorting of Entitlements (CARE) Policy Response Survey

Preliminary Results: Total Respondents: 36

ANSWER CHOICES IN FAVOUR OF
Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament 75{17ac88c265afb328fa89088ab635a2a63864fdefdd7caa0964376053e8ea14b3}
Separate independent agency/commissioner to evaluate expense claims by MP’s 75{17ac88c265afb328fa89088ab635a2a63864fdefdd7caa0964376053e8ea14b3}
Rescind current entitlements legislation & force MP’s to claim expenses against their income tax 66.67{17ac88c265afb328fa89088ab635a2a63864fdefdd7caa0964376053e8ea14b3}
Every individual MP claim amount published along with purpose/place/date/time 80.56{17ac88c265afb328fa89088ab635a2a63864fdefdd7caa0964376053e8ea14b3}
Cap on entitlement spending per MP 66.67{17ac88c265afb328fa89088ab635a2a63864fdefdd7caa0964376053e8ea14b3}
Other (please specify) – see below for specific suggestions  33.33{17ac88c265afb328fa89088ab635a2a63864fdefdd7caa0964376053e8ea14b3}

It’s early days yet- this being the first real effort at promotion but the quality of suggestions is encouraging:

  • Statement to be provided of who travelled, or consumed expenses, with them [viz Partners, Children, Friends or the like] and such expenses not to be Taxpayer liability. (11/1/2013 9:19 AM)
  • Any fraudulent claims [Charity benefits] must be pursued by AFP as a Crime, the same as in Private Enterprise. (11/1/2013 9:00 AM)
  • Minchin Protocol to be abolished (11/1/2013 8:45 AM)
  • MPs get paid enough. Let them pay their own expenses for everything except overseas travel, if proven necessary. (11/1/2013 8:44 AM)
  • Rules also need to be limited. An MP is supposed to represent THEIR electorate, should be no spending out side of that electorate without very strict conditions. NO spending on party business should be allowed at all. (11/1/2013 8:38 AM)
  • That all official receipts, invitations, & associated paperwork for events & functions are scanned & placed onto database as attachment to each expense entry. Proof of information will help to stop rorting as they will think twice before claiming. (10/31/2013 12:48 PM)
  • There was also a media piece on banning parliamentarians from employing spouses and other family members ie.double dipping. Could be covered in Code of Conduct (10/31/2013 10:56 AM)
  • Report monthly on a public accessible website (10/31/2013 9:49 AM)
  • MPs pay their own expenses up front and are repaid after being cleared by independent auiditor (10/31/2013 9:26 AM)
  • Online instant notification of claims will allow much needed scrutiny.(10/31/2013 9:17 AM)
  • Purchasing Rules to ensure more efficient (and non-crony-related) spending of electorate funds, eg “Must use commercial printing service for more than a designated number of copies”. “Use phone or Skype in place of personal travel wherever practicable”. (10/30/2013 7:39 PM)

If the Estonians and Romanians can increase government transparency through citizen-lead initiatives then I challenge Aussies to do the same. Have your say in the survey- give me something more than a tweet to send to parliament  and show the world that Australian’s do care about government accountability and are willing to do something about it. Parliament returns in coming weeks – let’s show the new parliament that Australians are not just watching – we are playing our role in improving democracy as engaged citizens!