Victorian Speaker Telmo Languiller Resigns Over Expenses Scandal

Telmo Languiller, the Speaker of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, has resigned, in the wake of a scandal over his parliamentary expenses claims.

Languiller

The resignation took place following revelations that Languiller, 59, claimed around $40,000 of expenses for a “second residence” in Queenscliff, an allowance normally only available to MPs who live 80 kilometres from the Melbourne Post Office.

Languiller lives in Footscray, just outside his Tarneit electorate. Tarneit is based around Laverton North, Tarneit and Williams Landing. It is 12 kilometres from Melbourne.

Languiller has represented Tarneit for the ALP since 2014, having previously represented Sunshine (1999-2002) and Derrimut (2002-2014).

In August 2015, Bronwyn Bishop, the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, resigned over an expenses controversy involving the use of a helicopter to travel from Melbourne to Geelong.

Statement by Victorian Legislative Assembly Speaker Telmo Languiller.

Statement From The Member For Tarneit

During the last 48 hours I have had the opportunity to talk with family, colleagues and friends.

As I have already stated in the press and in the Parliament, I accept that my actions do not meet the very high standards that the community expects of its elected representatives.

No matter what difficult personal circumstances I may have been going through, I have to recognise it is an error of judgement and I accept that I should pay the price for that error of judgement.

I understand that offering to repay the allowance is not enough.

For this reason today I contacted the Premier to inform him that I would be resigning as the Speaker of the Parliament.

I regret that this issue, if not addressed, could damage the position of Speaker and the Labor Party that I love.

The Premier has provided me with much support over the last two years as I faced very difficult family challenges and I thank him for that.

I thank all of my colleagues for the support they have given me, and members from all sides of politics.

Once again I reiterate my regret at the actions I have taken and I hope that as a backbencher in the Andrews Labor Government I can rebuild trust by serving my electorate of Tarneit and my community.


Sussan Ley Resigns From Ministry; Turnbull Announces Reforms To Politicians’ Entitlements

The Health Minister, Sussan Ley, has resigned from the Turnbull ministry.

Ley announced her resignation after a week of adverse political reaction to publicity about her travel expenses and visits to the Gold Coast. On one visit, Ley purchased an investment property.

Investigations by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Finance are still underway but it is reported that the prime minister believed Ley’s position had become untenable. He announced her resignation at a press conference called to announce reforms to MPs’ entitlements.

Ley released the text of her resignation letter to Turnbull (see below). She maintained that she had done nothing wrong and was not in breach of the ministerial code of conduct. She said she was resigning because the “ongoing media coverage of politicians’ entitlements has been a diversion from the important agenda we all wish to advance at the start of this vital year for our nation and our region”.

Turnbull announced that the government would establish an independent expenses authority to monitor and adjudicate all claims by politicians. He said the government would continue to implement all the recommendations of the Conde and Tune review of the parliamentary entitlements system.

Sussan Ley’s resignation letter.

Ley

Transcript of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s press conference announcing reforms to MPs’ entitlements.

TURNBULL: Good afternoon.

Today I have received notice from the Honourable Sussan Ley, of her intention to resign as the Minister Health, Ageing and Sport. I want to thank her for her service to the Government as a Minister and as a member of the Executive over many years.

I will make a further announcement about ministerial arrangements next week. In the meantime, the Cabinet Secretary, Senator Sinodinos, will continue to act as Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport. [Read more…]


Dastyari Resigns From ALP Frontbench

Senator Sam Dastyari has resigned from the ALP frontbench.

Dastyari

  • Listen to Dastyari’s resignation statement (3m):

The resignation comes a day after an embarrassing press conference over Dastyari’s solicitation of a payment of an electorate office bill from Top Education Institute, a Chinese-connected company and ALP donor.

Dastyari was Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs and Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate. [Read more…]


Dastyari Apologises, Regrets Actions: Unimpressive Media Conference

Labor Senator Sam Dastyari today regretted and apologised for his actions in seeking payment of an electorate office bill from a foreign company.

Dastyari

Dastyari, 33, sought payment of $1,670.82 of an electorate office travel expenses bill from the Chinese company Top Education Institute. He declared the payment on his pecuniary interest register. [Read more…]


Dastyari Statement On Top Education Payments; Bernardi On The Attack

The issue of foreign political donations is back in the news with the revelation that NSW ALP Senator Sam Dastyari sought and received payment of expenses by a Chinese company.

Dastyari

In a statement to the Senate today, Dastyari confirmed information on his register of pecuniary interests. He said a bill of $1,670.82 for electorate staff travel was paid by Top Education Pty Ltd.

Dastyari said he should have paid the money himself. He said he had donated a similar amount to charity. [Read more…]


Government Tightens Rules On Parliamentarians’ Expenses Claims

The federal government has strengthened the rules governing parliamentarians’ expenses.

The Special Minister of State, Senator Michael Ronaldson, has announced that from January 1, 2014 MPs whose travel claims need adjustment will pay a 25% penalty on top of the adjustment. Mandatory training will be provided to parliamentarians and their staff if more than one claim needs adjustment within a financial year.

The government has tightened rules on travel entitlements for members’ families. It has also stipulated that overseas travel may not be taken first class. Members’ names may also be tabled in parliament if they do no “substantially comply” within a reasonable time with requests for further information.

The government will also ban MPs from employing relatives in their electorate offices. Those who currently do so have until January 1 to make alternative arrangements.

The changes have been announced just days before the new parliament meets for the first time. They follow several weeks of revelations about claims by MPs. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has repaid over $1,700 in travel and accommodation expenses he claimed for attending the weddings of Sophie Mirabella and Peter Slipper in 2006.

Adam Bandt, acting leader of the Australian Greens, said the government was only acting under pressure and its changes were the “bare minimum”. He called for an Integrity Commissioner and a parliamentary “entitlements adviser”.

Statement from the Special Minister of State, Senator Michael Ronaldson.

STRENGTHENING THE RULES GOVERNING PARLIAMENTARIANS’ BUSINESS EXPENSES

Direct contact between citizens and their elected representatives is an important part of our democracy.

The system of funding the work costs of members and senators in carrying out their responsibilities is complicated by the fact that there is no set job description for the role of a parliamentarian. As independent assessments show, a parliamentarian’s day is routinely long, busy and varied. [Read more…]


A Lot To Account For In Politicians’ Pay

An article of mine appeared in today’s edition of the Sydney Morning Herald.

It comments on the changes announced yesterday by the Remuneration Tribunal, increasing politicians’ pay, but abolishing the gold pass and restricting non-salary benefits such as travel entitlements.

The Remuneration Tribunal’s report can be downloaded here. (5mb PDF) [Read more…]