Report reveals politicians use travel allowance to pay off their mortgages

After countless scandals about politicians’ spending habits and abuse of political allowances, it has been revealed that one in five
Economy

After countless scandals about politicians’ spending habits and abuse of political allowances, it has been revealed that one in five politicians use their monthly travel allowance to pay off their mortgages.

Politicians are allowed to claim $273 when they travel to Canberra for work and many of them own second houses in the city.

Under the law, they are allowed to stay in their own homes and claim the money back under the travel allowance scheme. This means they can take the accommodation money and put it back into their home loan to pay off the mortgage.

The revelation has outraged voters, many of whom say they are sickened by such a “blatant use” of taxpayer money for personal gain.

Representatives for ministers including Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Social Services Minister Christian Porter, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and Assistant Defence Minister Michael McCormack confirmed they stay in houses or apartments they own and claim the travel allowance when in Canberra, which can work out at a minimum of $1000 a week or $18,000 a year, reports SMH.

A number of Labor frontbenchers, including immigration spokesman Richard Marles and trade spokeswoman Penny Wong also claim the allowance.

They payment scheme was recently under investigation throughout an inquiry into MPs spending allowances, but was found to be a “reasonable” item.

“The committee considers the current arrangements are reasonable. It also considers that how parliamentarians use the flat rate allowance to support their accommodation in Canberra is a matter for them,” the review, which was released earlier this month, said.

One of the most high-profile pollies who has made claims under the accomodation allowance is Joe Hockey.

Mr Hockey and his wife own a three-bedroom home in the upmarket Canberra suburb of Forrest. They bought to house for $320,000 in 1997 and are selling it at auction this weekend, where it is expected to go for over $1 million.

See the full list of which MPs own properties in Canberra. (List obtained from Sydney Morning Herald)

MPs who own property in Canberra
House of Representatives: Anthony Albanese, Brownyn Bishop, Julie Bishop, Mark Butler, Jim Chalmers, Peter Dutton, Gary Gray, Jill Hall, Chris Hayes, Stephen Jones, Andrew Laming, Richard Marles, Russell Matheson, Michael McCormack, Andrew Nikolic, Brendan O’Connor, Keith Pitt, Tanya Plibersek, Christian Porter, Jane Prentice, Melissa Price, Amanda Rishworth, Philip Ruddock, Warren Snowdon, Sharman Stone, Ann Sudmalis, Dan Tehan, Warren Truss, Matt Williams, Ken Wyatt.

Senate: Penny Wong, Glenn Sterle, Rachel Siewert, Nigel Scullion, Linda Reynolds, Helen Polley, Nova Peris, Barry O’Sullivan, David Leyonhjelm, Chris Ketter, Bill Heffernan, Doug Cameron, David Fawcett, George Brandis, Mathias Cormann, Cory Bernardi, Chris Back, Eric Abetz, Michaelia Cash, Kim Carr, Matt Canavan.

What are your thoughts on this latest revelation? Do you think it’s fair for pollies to claim travel allowance and use it to pay their mortgage?

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