Corruption and Crime Commission urges improved controls on Parliamentary electorate allowance

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17 December 2019

The Corruption and Crime Commission today tabled in State Parliament a report which identifies significant serious misconduct and corruption risks relating to $7.5 million in annual electorate allowances paid to its members.

Because the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal, the Department of Premier and Cabinet, and Parliament do not conduct audits of electorate allowance expenditure, it is impossible for the Commission to say whether or not the behaviour illustrated in the report is representative of a widespread use of the electorate allowance for personal benefit. The Commission's investigation into the matter is ongoing.

Every year, each member of Parliament has a base electorate allowance of $78,000 to ‘assist in the effective representation of their electorates’. Additional allowances are granted for regional members.

Parliamentary members are intended to use the funds for the benefit of their electorate, as clearly stated in the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal's determination. However, members are not accountable for the actual expenditure of these funds. They are not audited by the State. There are rules for its use – but they are ineffective and no checks are performed to see if the rules are followed.

The purpose of this interim report is to illustrate the significant misconduct risks with the present electorate allowances system, and to alert Parliament and the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal to the kind of conduct that can occur, so appropriate action can be considered.

The report highlights how the system can easily be abused – in this case by former MP Phillip Edman.

Misconduct risks in electorate allowances for Members of Parliament tells how the former member of the Legislative Council inappropriately used some electorate allowance between 2013 and May 2017. While some electorate allowance may have benefitted the electorate, a significant portion was used to fund his personal lifestyle.

As examples, the use of the electorate allowance to fund visits to an exotic strip club, travel and entertainment of female companions, and to treat staff to lavish, private Christmas parties is improper. The electorate allowance was also used to pay for road traffic speeding infringements, bills of one of his female companions, and expenses associated with Mr Edman's yacht - all that were improperly claimed as tax deductions.

Evidence indicates Mr Edman denied his constituents the potential benefit of public funds.

The Commission has formed an opinion of serious misconduct in relation to Mr Edman.

Download the report

Misconduct risks in electorate allowances for Members of Parliament