| 30.06,09. 05:29 AM |
MP meal allowance in NSW Remuneration Tribunal report
June 30, 2009 12:01am
New meal allowance for MPs
'Personal aircraft' perk
Generous payouts for poor performers
DOZENS of MPs will be given a $77.55 a day meal allowance for simply turning up to work, under generous changes to politicians' living allowances.
The New South Wales Government will also consider the creation of a new perk that will allow poorly performing MPs to claim a three-month redundancy payout of up to $40,000 when they are disendorsed by their own party.
Under a series of new rulings by politicians' wages and allowances watchdog, two NSW National Party MPs will also be granted permission to claim the expenses and running costs of their own private aircraft to fly around their electorates.
MPs will now also be allowed to buy gadgets including Blackberries and portable communication devices using their taxpayer funded allowance rather than rely on having them provided by Parliament.
The new perks, which appear to have been granted in spite of the MPs' rorts scandal gripping the British Parliament, are contained in a report of the NSW Parliamentary Remuneration Tribunal.
It was handed to the Government on May 29. However, the Government has sought to keep the new allowances secret by only tabling them late last Friday after Parliament had risen for a two-month winter recess.
The rulings make a mockery of recent attempts to close loopholes for MPs' perks.
The meal perk, the equivalent of a lunch or dinner at any of Sydney's finest restaurants, will apply to 44 MPs who live outside or on the fringe of the Sydney metropolitan zone and make a return day-trip to the CBD on non-sitting days.
The "in-transit" meal allowance was previously only allowed to MPs who had to stay overnight in Sydney because of the distance from their home.
But two Sydney MPs, the Labor member for Heathcote Paul McLeay and the Liberal member for Hawkesbury Ray Williams will also benefit from the new meal allowance as their Sydney electorates are considered non-metropolitan.
"The tribunal finds that it is appropriate for members to claim reasonable actual meal expenses incurred on the journey to and from their usual place of residence and Sydney . . ." the report claimed.
The tribunal is also considering a request to provide 12-week redundancy packages for MPs who retire "involuntarily" and claimed that legislation will have to be changed for it to make a ruling.
The tribunal said the redundancy package would help MPs with "resettlement" after losing a preselection.
The tribunal knocked back a group of western Sydney MPs' request to be granted the $20,000 Sydney allowance for overnight stays in Sydney when visiting Parliament.