After the final week of Parliament for the year, Australian Politicians have returned to what they do best: sideshow bickering. Specifically, they are bickering over the recently revealed expenses of various Ministers and Portfolios from the last reporting season. In some respects I think this is an important issue. Yes, I find it ridiculous that Kevin Rudd spent more than $300,000 in two months as Foreign Minister, and yes I find it ridiculous that the Speaker of House spent money on foreign trips. However, the waste that most irritates me is the waste of the past week. Specifically, the waste of time and money that took place over the past week as both the Government and the Opposition spent precious Parliamentary time politicking instead of working.
There were a number of important bills on the docket this week, among them a supposedly important education bill. I say supposedly because I know very little about these bills, and I doubt anyone but policy wonks do. The reason? Most of Question Time during the parliamentary sitting, and all of the media time during the past week was spent pursuing political agenda’s. The debate was lost. The Opposition devoted days upon days (after weeks, months and years) to attacking Prime Minister Julia Gillard for alleged indiscretions that took place more than two decades ago. The Government countered by launching a barrage on certain methods and irregularities in the Opposition attacks. Time that should have been spent evaluating and debating policy was instead wasted on idiotic accusations and posturing. While the substance of the politicking may have their merits, they took up more than enough time and attention during the last Parliamentary break, and they could have waited for the next one. They did not need to eat up the last week of Parliament.
Now, seeing as everyone is all hot and bothered about Government waste, why don’t we talk about the waste of this week? Let’s put aside the actual time wasted, I think I have expounded enough on that (and it is immeasurable). Let’s talk instead about the amount of public money wasted. The sheer amount of money wasted as more than two hundred elected officials spent a week playing politics instead of governing. Now, the base salary for Members of Parliament in Australia is $190,500 AUD per year. That works out to $3,663.46 per week. Multiply this by 226 Parliamentarians, and we get $827,941.96 wasted in the past week alone, on the salaries of Members of Parliament alone. This does not count the extra money earned by members of Cabinet and the Party Leader or random expenses. This also does not count the cost of the Parliament staff, civil servants, security, cleaning, travel, utilities and Representative Staff etc. that would also have enumerated within the last week. In short, this is the real waste in Canberra. If Politicians want to get self righteous and serious about Government waste, they should look at their own actions first.
- Australian Parliament Website
Originally posted @ Sakalabujan Magazine