On last Monday’s Q&A program Attorney-General George Brandis was asked by a welfare recipient ‘why politicians’ expense are extravagant and go unchecked, while I am having my Disability Support Pension reviewed, despite a 28 year exemplary career as a teacher then having to resign because of ill health? My $22,000 yearly pension with which I am raising three exceptional children, would be less than most pollies spend in a month!’
This argument is one that is echoed by many left-wing commentators and activists that it is the mean conservatives who are abusing their parliamentary entitlements while bullying poor welfare recipients and telling the rest of us to tighten our belts. It gives the impression that left-wing politicians are extremely diligent with their expenses and are careful and considerate when dealing with other people’s money. Greens Leader Richard Di Natale has tried to feed this perception with his bill in parliament forcing MPs to disclose their entitlements.
However, if you look objectively at which side of politics are the greatest abusers of other people’s money it is easily the left. Which makes sense as conservatives naturally want to see other people’s money spent wisely and favour lower taxes and tighter budgets. Left wing people want to collect as much tax as possible from these greedy rich people and divide up to those they deem worthy, which often includes themselves since they believe everything they do is for a good cause. If left wing activists really cared about the abuse of entitlements, they would start cleaning up their own side.
While it is conservative politicians like Bronwyn Bishop, Sussan Ley, Tony Abbott and Sophie Mirabella to whom the most criticism is reserved for, the list of left wing politicians who have done so is endless and while conservative politicians tend to fall on their sword and resign hence ending their careers, left wing politicians often stay or have a period in the sin bin before coming back.
The most recent examples of left wing politicians abusing their entitlements are the Victorian Labor Speaker Telmo Languiller who claimed $40,000 in expenses for living in a second residence which was nowhere near his electorate. His deputy Don Nardella had done the exact same thing but to the tune of $100,000. Both have thankfully resigned demonstrating the outrage did get through to their Labor mates. This follows a few months after another Victorian Labor figure, Corrections and Training Minister Steve Herbert, was eventually forced to resign after he was revealed to have used his ministerial car to ferry around his two dogs.
Moving onto federal Labor, MP Mark Dreyfus who was forced to pay back two nights’ accommodation at a ski resort while at the time he was berating the Coalition for their misuse of travel allowances. Tony Burke was revealed in 2015 to have cost taxpayers $2.2 million in travel expenses including VIP jets and charter flights while being the leading critic against Bronwyn Bishop helicopter ride.
Despite successfully portraying themselves as champions of the little guy the Greens have also been big spenders of taxpayers’ money. Sarah Hanson Young had blown her electorate staff travel budget by over $15,000 which she was forced to repay. Larissa Waters spent $414,000 fitting out her electorate office in Brisbane, spending the most out of any MP from that state. Two Greens politicians were among the top 10 parliamentary spenders on flights in the first half of last year.
While not taxpayers’ money but still other people’s money, let’s not forget the fraudsters at the Health Services Union (HSU). Former Labor MP Craig Thomson was found to have misspent $458,000 worth of members’ money. Former HSU President and former National President of the Labor Party Michael Williamson who is now in jail had misspent $5 million of that union’s money. Even the union whistle-blower Kathy Jackson in the end joined in on the spending spree by misspending $1.4 million of union members’ money. Remember these were some of the lowest paid workers in Australia, the ones that left claims to care about the most.
So, next time you see somebody from the left raging about politicians’ entitlements or high flying corporate fat cats, tell them the worst offenders are probably from their own side. Make them call out the left-wing hypocrites when it comes to entitlements and not let these left wing entitlement abusers get a free pass. Though given the tribal nature of the left don’t count on this happening. At least us on the right side of politics hold anyone, no matter what their politics is to account for misusing other people’s money.