Friday, November 12, 2010

We should not tolerate fraudsters in our Parliament

At a press conference a few minutes ago, Pansy Wong's press secretary apparently said she would resign from parliament. It was a slip-up - she's only resigning as a Minister - but its a shame. Because resigning from Parliament is exactly what she should have done.

Let's be clear about this: Wong abused her Parliamentary travel perk to the tune of thousands of dollars (and that's just the incident we know about). And that is fraud, or more technically, using a document for pecuniary advantage. We should not tolerate this. We should not tolerate fraudsters sitting in our Parliament.

Now doubt she'll pay the money back. But so (eventually) do the benefit fraudsters who get dragged through the court every week. That doesn't stop them from facing justice for their crime. We cannot have one rule for politicians and another for the poor. If the investigation currently underway by the Speaker's Office confirms Wong's admission of abuse, then she must be prosecuted.

Update: Ah yes, here we are: the Speaker's office solemnly confirms that Wong will repay the money "in the event that there has been misuse of this entitlement". No mention though of whether they would refer misuse to the police. That's simply not good enough. The Speaker's office should be promoting high standards in the use of public money. And that means prosecutions for serious abuse.