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SA Greens call for crackdown on MP perks

Allowances paid to South Australian MPs should be completely overhauled to prevent some “double or even triple-dipping”, a Greens MP says.

In a submission to the SA Remuneration Tribunal on Tuesday, Mark Parnell said the system must be made more transparent to stop the rorting.

“Under the current rules, some members of parliament are double or even triple-dipping into taxpayers’ money,” Mr Parnell said.

He said the worst offenders were ministers who received a near $14,000 travel allowance each year regardless of whether they travelled or not.

They can then be paid a separate accommodation and meals allowance of up to $507 each day they are away, and still claim an extra accommodation allowance available if they happen to live more than 75 kilometres from Adelaide and need to stay in the city for work.

Incorrect claims related to this last allowance recently prompted former transport minister Stephan Knoll and former primary industries minister Tim Whetstone to quit cabinet.

Both have since repaid some of the money they received.

Two other Liberal MPs also quit senior parliamentary positions amid questions over their claims.

“The mass resignations from ministerial and other senior positions shows that these MPs know full well that what they have been doing doesn’t pass the sniff test, the pub test, the water-cooler test or any other type of test you can think of,” Mr Parnell said.

“The public know a rip-off when they see it and the behaviour of a few has highlighted that the rules need fixing and the loopholes need closing.”

In his submission, the Greens leader called for a reduction of ministerial accommodation and meals allowance, and a reduction in the country member accommodation payments.

He said the tribunal should also stop MPs pocketing allowances while staying for free with family and friends, and increase the definition of a country MP to someone who lives more than 100 kilometres from the city.

In its submission to the tribunal, the Labor opposition called for the distance to increase to 100 kms.

It said improved roads and cars meant 75kms was no longer an unreasonable commute.

But the government has opposed any changes to the distance, arguing that asking country MPs to drive up to 100km after a late-night function or event in Adelaide would be too onerous.

Mr Parnell said he would also move in parliament to change some outdated payments, including the $1500 paid to MPs each year because they no longer receive free public transport.

“Most MPs never catch public transport, yet all are compensated for losing their free tickets,” he said.

Last month, Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander revealed he was looking at all claims for the country accommodation allowances dating back 10 years.

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