Home' The Murray Pioneer : January 13th 2017 Contents www.murraypioneer.com.au Friday, January 13, 2017 NEWS 9
Steel String Guitar
48A Bookpurnong Tc e
(opposite Tourist Office)
Opening times during sale:
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Sat 9.00am – 12.00pm
ON SALE JANUARY 16 - 31
Upcoming Hot Topics for Parents
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How to Build Resilience with Your Children
Wednesday 8 Feb, 6 pm.
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Wednesday 15 Feb, 6 pm.
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Wednesday 22 Feb, 6 pm.
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3 February 2017
4pm – 9pm
COME ALONG AND HELP US CELEBRATE THE OPENING OF THE
Loxton Research Centre
Community market featuring local produce • food • wine tasting •
live music • kids’ activities • tours of the Centre
* Fun for the whole family! *
Loxton Research Centre
1801 Bookpurnong Road
The Loxton Research Centre Redevelopment forms part of the South Australian River Murray
Sustainability (SARMS) Program, funded by the Australian Government and delivered by the
Government of South Australia.
OUR two local MPs insist they err on
the side of caution when it comes to
In the wake of the Sussan Ley
scandal, the microscope is on the
nation’s MPs and their taxpayer-
funded trips, however Senator Anne
Ruston and Member for Barker Tony
Pasin were both on the front foot
over the issue this week.
On a national ‘premiership
ladder’ of travel allowances from
January 1 to June 30 last year,
Renmark-based Senator Ruston was
12th among all federal MPs – upper
and lower house – after claiming
Mount Gambier-based Mr Pasin
was in 71st spot with $12,932.
Senior Liberal MP Julie Bishop and
suspended Health Minister Ms Ley
topped the table with $37,834 and
Senator Ruston said most of
her travel expenses were related to
where she lives and her position as
Assistant Minister for Agriculture
and Water Resources.
“Often my travel will be quite
high, relative to everybody else’s
for a number of reasons: I’m rurally
based, I’ve got an agriculturally-
based portfolio, and I work really
hard,” she said.
“But the interpretation that the
media often puts on the fact that
I have got higher travel than say
Simon Birmingham – who’s city-
based and has got an education
portfolio, which means he’s always
in capital cities – is that somehow
it’s bad that I travelled more.
“Well, I would suggest that it
should be interpreted differently.
“But I doubt your readers would
care too much about that. What
they care about is that in a time
when we’re supposed to be tighten-
ing our belts and the like, that (MPs)
are seen to be doing the same
thing. And I agree with them.”
Senator Ruston said she was
cautious about spending taxpayer
money on travel expenses.
“I interpret the rules
very strictly...” she said.
“I probably err on
the side of caution if
there’s any doubt what-
soever that it could be
In proffering his
record of playing by
the rules, Mr Pasin
said he flies economy
when available, and
mostly drives across his vast elec-
torate, which stretches from Port
MacDonnell in the state’s South
East, to Morgan in the north, and
across to the Victorian border in the
“I’ve got a charter budget... which
I think runs to about $35,000, so I
can probably get 10 or 20 flights to
the Riverland, but I drive,” he said.
“I put in 100,000 kilometres a
year for this very reason.
“‘Wheels not wings’ is a bit of a
phrase in our office.
“People will accept you putting
fuel in a government car to drive
somewhere, but what riles people
up is if they see an expensive char-
Mr Pasin said he was confident
he had never falsely claimed a
travel allowance during his time in
“Absolutely, and I’ve never been
subjected to an order for repay-
ment,” he said.
“I’m very cautious about these
things because I know how it’s per-
ceived in the community.”
- PAUL MITCHELL
CAPPING politicians’ travel
budgets would stop MPs rorting
their allowances, a local member
Showing little sympathy for
under-fire party colleague Sussan
Ley, Liberal Member for Barker
Tony Pasin said set allocations
would work better than the cur-
rent “self-regulated” system.
“So, you’d be allocated par-
ticular funding to travel within
your electorate per year, and
you’d have to stay within that
cap,” he said.
“Currently, it’s simply a work
test: Is this travel being under-
taken for the purpose of parlia-
mentary duty? If you can answer
‘yes’ to that question in your own
mind, then you’re permitted to
“But at the moment travel is
unlimited and it’s self regulated
and sadly there have now been
too many examples of travel
which, while authorised, fails the
pub test and doesn’t meet com-
Suspended Health Minister Ms
Ley faces permanent banishment
from the cabinet following reve-
lations about 17 Gold Coast trips
she charged to taxpayers.
Mr Pasin wants more stringent
conditions imposed on Australian
politicians and says the travel
allowance scandal – which has
also involved deputy Liberal
leader Julie Bishop in recent days
is a bad look.
“Absolutely. We’ve got to take
the ambiguity out of it,” he said.
“It would make it easier for me
to manage my work.
“I’m incredibly disappoint-
ed with what I’ve been reading
daily, it’s certainly not the way I
manage my travel arrangements.”
Senator Anne Ruston believes
stricter interpretation of the cur-
rent rules would address the
“There shouldn’t be grey
areas,” she said.
“In my view, you don’t charge
anything to the taxpayer if you
can’t absolutely justify that you
would not have done it had it not
been for your job.
“I think the rules are fine. It’s
about breaking the rules and who
interprets whether the rules have
been broken or not.”
Both Mr Pasin and Senator
Ruston are frustrated that the
latest travel allowance scandal –
which follows Bronwyn Bishop’s
infamous ‘choppergate’ episode
in 2015 – condemns all politi-
cians in the public’s eyes.
“What disappoints me about
what I’ve been reading in recent
days is that unfortunately all
of us are tarred with a similar
brush,” Mr Pasin said.
“This is the experience we
had post Bronwyn, and it’s a bad
experience we’re having at the
moment, that those of us who are
doing the right thing are treated
by the community in the same
way as the people who do the
Senator Ruston said lumping
all MPs into the same category
was a mistake.
“There are a few people who
do things that don’t meet the
pub test, and therefore everyone
gets thrown into the same basic
(group),” she said.
“And you end up with a set of
rules that treat you like you’re all
badly behaved idiots.”
Senator Ruston conceded that
stories about MPs’ perks anger
“These are the kinds of things
that really get people riled up,”
“But I’m not going to pass
judgement on what Sussan has
done. She’s got to justify that for
Cap our travel costs
Local politician’s solution to expense scandal
Caution first, say Ruston and Pasin
(Jan 1 to June 30, 2016)
1. Julie Bishop
2. Sussan Ley
12. Anne Ruston
71 . Tony Pasin
92. Nick Xenophon
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