More scrutiny of MP's claims after errors


    The South Australian government is pushing to publish the accommodation allowances of MPs online each month after two ministers said they would pay back sums incorrectly claimed.

    Country MP allowance records for the past decade were tabled in parliament on Tuesday, with Premier Steven Marshall saying some administrative errors were made in tens of thousands of transactions.

    “I’m not of the opinion there has been any deliberate dishonesty but it’s my expectation they will be made very clear and rectified as quickly as possible,” Mr Marshall said.

    “Going forward, there needs to be much greater transparency and clarity with regards to how country MPs claim their accommodation allowance.”

    Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone told the parliament previous errors were recently brought to his attention and he took full responsibility, paying back about $7000.

    “I’ve asked my office to do a full audit of that 10-year period. They did that and found administrative errors, which have been rectified and paid back,” he said.

    “I take full responsibility and I apologise to the house, the people of Chaffey and South Australians.”

    Transport Minister Stephan Knoll also admitted to finding three past errors.

    But he said he would pay back everything he had claimed since 2018, thought to be more than $29,000.

    “There has been ambiguity around this allowance and until that is resolved, I’ve repaid the money and will not claim the allowance until the ambiguity is resolved,” he said.

    The state opposition is now calling for the ministers to be sacked.

    Mr Marshall said a submission would be made to the independent Remuneration Tribunal, calling for records to be published online monthly and for more clarity around what was claimable.

    Under current arrangements, allowances are only published once a year and then only the total figure for each MP.

    “We’ve asked the auditor-general to increase the scrutiny of this payment to country MPs and there should be random audits,” Mr Marshall said.

    “We need to assure the people of SA that when their money is spent, it’s in accordance with the guidelines.”

    Country MPs in South Australia are able to claim an accommodation Child Education Allowance Rules for when they leave their electorates and visit Adelaide on parliamentary or other work-related business.

    Last month, SA Police were asked to investigate the legitimacy of MP Terry Stephens’ claims for taxpayer-funded allowances worth $60,534 over a two-year period.