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$95.8M in expenses claimed by federal politicians in 2014

$95.8M in expenses claimed by federal politicians in 2014

BigInsights proposing more comprehensive, data-driven reform of politicians’ entitlements

Almost $100 million was spent on entitlements by more than 250 federal MPs and senators in 2014, according to data released on Wednesday by BigInsights.

The data research and consulting firm has created a handy dashboard which uses data from the Department of Finance to shed light on expenses claimed by all members of federal parliament.

Between January and December 2014, politicians claimed $95.8 million in entitlements.

BigInsights said while there is no doubt that the majority of expenses claimed last year were legitimate, there are currently no services that look at overreach or abuse in these claims.

The company said that despite PM Tony Abbott announcing a reform of the system of politicians’ expenses, the “key issue the review needs to overcome is the lack of transparency and ease of access to this data for the Australian public".

According to the dashboard, the prime minister claimed $1.8 million in expenses during the year, which included $1.3 million on overseas travel, $184,000 on office facilities, and $151,000 on car costs.

Minster for foreign affairs, Julie Bishop’s expense count was $1.54 million for the year with $894,000 claimed for overseas travel, $305,000 for office facilities.

Meanwhile, Liberal member for Barker, Tony Pasin’s total expenses were $1.41 million, which included $565,000 for office fit outs, $228,000 for office facilities, and $187,000 for office administration costs.

Minister for social services, Scott Morrison spent $856,000 and Bronwyn Bishop spent $846,000 during 2014.

BigInsights is proposing a data driven framework to achieve reform. This includes a change in culture so politicians understand that these are not entitlements but expenses to achieve positive outcomes for the Australian people.

“We need to set and measure key performance outcomes against which expenses will be measured,” the firm said.

BigInsights also proposed mobile and social media technology be used to capture, store and report on entitlement costs. A smartphone or tablet app could also record individual expenses to enable politicians or their staff provide richer information about expenses.

A digital dash board could enable the Australian public to analyse expenses versus outcomes achieved, and detailed expenditure data sets could be made available on data.gov.au for public scrutiny, the company said.

Read more: 5 Ways to make costs cuts stick

Near real time information could be made available within days or weeks of expenditure being recorded not months as is the current situation.

Finally, when expenses are above community expectations and historical baseline, detailed outcomes achieved by the overspend should be articulated, BigInsights proposed.

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Tags social mediamobileconsultingdashboardexpensesTony AbbottBronwyn Bishopdata setsclaimsJulie BishopentitlementsBigInsightsdata researchTony Pasinoffice facilities

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