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MPs told there’s no rush to spend allowances before election

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After giving MPs access to more money, the Remuneration Tribunal has now cautioned that they don’t have to spend it all at once.

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The independent tribunal, which sets the pay for members of the Legislative Assembly, had effectively given MPs a pre-election bonus by declaring they could roll over up to 40 per cent of their unspent 2019-20 electorate allowances. For some MPs, that could amount to another $30,000 in taxpayer funds to promote the benefits of incumbency.

While, normally, 10 per cent of an unspent allowance is able to be rolled over into the next financial year, the tribunal took advice from the Clerk of Parliament, Neil Laurie, that the pandemic had disrupted normal electorate business. The extraordinary determination from the tribunal allowed MPs to play catch-up.

“However, the literal interpretation of Determination 20/2020 requires that the entire (allowance) carry-over must be acquitted by 30 October,” the tribunal said, in a clarification tabled in parliament today.

“This is inconsistent with the tribunal’s intention regarding the additional carry-over provision.”

The tribunal has sought to clarify that 10 per cent of the carry-over is still available to be acquitted before 30 June 2021 – provided, of course, that the MPs are re-elected on October 31. There is nothing to stop them spending it all before October 30 if they see a need.

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