13 June 2016
by Kaye Lee

Who says we don’t need a Federal ICAC?

Members of Parliament are paid an electorate allowance, ranging between $32,000 to $46,000 depending on the size of their electorate. They are also provided with a car or given $19,500 pa to use their own.

The electorate allowance is ‘an expense of office allowance payable to Senators and Members to reimburse them for costs necessarily incurred in providing services to their constituents’.

First we had George Christensen telling us that he regularly uses his allowance to make personal donations.

Now we find out that Liberal MPs have been paying $2,500 each of taxpayer money to a company that is run by the Liberal Party and staffed by people drawing a parliamentary salary. This money has then been donated back to the Liberal Party – over $1 million in the last three years.

In 2014, Tony Abbott established a covert political hit squad which is funded by taxpayers, operates outside parliamentary scrutiny and has a controversial leader.

The under-the-radar Coalition Advisory Service supplies Government backbenchers with media information and ammunition to aim at the Labor Opposition. It has offices in Parliament House.

Its head is Simon Berger, the former Woolworths executive who left the company after organising the auction of a “chaff-bag jacket” at a September 2012 Young Liberal fundraising dinner addressed by Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones.

Under CAS, Mr Berger has a staff of at least six but a potential allocation of 10.

They are paid from $75,000 to $175,000 a year, and are issued with laptops and mobile telephones.

It operates under the Government Whip who, since he’s not a minister, does not have his spending examined at Estimates grillings.

Sallyann Innes was employed by CAS. Whilst being listed in staff directories as collecting a taxpayer-funded salary as a government media adviser in Parliament House, she also operated a private email address linked to Parakeelia and listed as “training and operations” director for Feedback software. She regularly ran support workshops for the software in capital cities.

We have been told that we do not need a federal ICAC because there are already bodies in place to deal with allegations of corruption. I would like to know to whom this obviously corrupt money-laundering has been or will be referred and how it could happen if we have adequate watchdogs.