In 2013, Parliament had the chance to end the unjustifiable travel perks of former MPs once and for all. But they muffed it, instead fobbing us off with a statutory reporting regime so we'd know who was rorting us and how much they were rorting us for. Today, the first such report was released, revealing the cost is almost three quarters of a million dollars:
Former MPs and their spouses have had the cost of their taxpayer-funded travel revealed for the first time - with some racking up bills of more than $12,000 in a year.
More than $716,000 was claimed by 154 people in the year to June 30. Several getting the perk have high-paying Government positions.
The biggest spenders include Rosalind Burdon, who claimed $12,913 and is the spouse of former National Cabinet minister Philip Burdon, who claimed $6126.
Of the former MPs, Labour's Harry Duynhoven and his wife spent $26,000. Act Party founder and former Labour finance minister Sir Roger Douglas and wife Lady Glennis spent $23,440 on international and domestic travel.
And once you add in fringe-benefit tax, the cost is well over a million.
There is no justifiable public purpose for this spending. The travel rort was never justified, and sustained solely by Parliamentary mythology and the self-interest of senior MPs from both parties who hope to enjoy taxpayer funded luxury holidays for live once they retire. And its beneficiaries are simply thieves stealing from the public (yes, they've made it legal, because they made the laws - but that doesn't make it any less a theft from the public purse). And now they're oddly reluctant to talk about their theft and upset at being named and shamed? Well, if they don't want the scrutiny that comes from spending public money, they have a simple solution: stop spending it. Otherwise, they should expect to be doorstopped and asked exactly why we gave them $10,000 of travel and what they did with it.
Meanwhile, if any MP is brave enough to stand up against their senior colleagues and end this theft, here's a bill to do it. And every day it is not introduced is another day that Parliament earns its reputation.