Cash for crash: Taxpayers cover pollies’ bingles


Taxpayers have been slugged the accident excess for two Queensland politicians who crashed their private cars, and it's all within the rules.

Analysis of Queensland's high-spending federal politicians has revealed taxpayers were billed the excess to cover two crashes involving Commonwealth leased cars.

Queensland Labor MP Jim Chalmers and LNP senator Amanda Stoker were involved in separate crashes last year, with each charging taxpayers $500 in excess.

In September 2019 Senator Stoker's private-plated car, a vehicle leased by the Commonwealth, was involved in a low-speed crash in a car park.

There was minor damage to another vehicle, however nobody was hurt in the crash.

Dr Chalmers, who is shadow treasurer, was involved in an unspecified crash on December 8, 2019.

Several MPs and senators also charged "infringement notice fees" - each a measly $15 - on their expenses.

The $15 fee is a fleet administration charge billed for each infringement notice received.

A private-plated vehicle is included in politicians' remuneration, with crash excess fuel and servicing charged to taxpayers under Department of Finance rules.

LNP senator Amanda Stoker
LNP senator Amanda Stoker

"Parliamentarians are personally responsible for payment of any fine specified on an infringement notice," a Finance spokesman said.

"Where an administrative charge for processing an infringement notice is levied, Finance will obtain reimbursement from the relevant parliamentarian."

Griffith University political scientist Paul Williams said political expenditure had been an ongoing problem.

"The assumption is the rules don't pass the pub test," he said.

"Most voters wouldn't like any expenditure - they think politicians are underworked and overpaid - but a tightening of the rules would probably be beneficial."

Queensland senator Pauline Hanson also forked out $1011 of taxpayer funds for "additional maintenance" on her vehicle.

This month The Courier-Mail revealed Queensland federal members and senators had racked up $5.4 million in the COVID-disrupted three months between July 1 and September 30.

Governmentfrontbencher Stuart Robert was the state's most costly politician, billing taxpayers $280,200 - including $152,000 to print half a million items.

The $5.4 million charged to taxpayers, despite a nine-week break and then a remote sitting of federal parliament, was comparable to the $6.1 million spent in the same period last year.






Originally published as Cash for crash: Taxpayers cover pollies' bingles

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