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Accountability: penalty scheme – loadings for contraventions and repayments
Division 3 of of the Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017 (PBR Act) sets out loadings that apply to:
- claims for public resources you make in contravention of your obligations
- voluntary repayments you make in respect of claims for public resources where it has not been found that you contravened your obligations.
‘Public resources’ is defined under the PBR Act as: any expenses or allowances paid under Part 3 of the Act; or any goods, services, premises, equipment or any other facility provided or paid under Part 3 (see s5 of the PBR Act).
‘Public resources’ does not include payments in the nature of remuneration, such as salary and electorate allowance, as remuneration is covered under Part 2 of the Act.
Public resources provided under Part 3 of the PBR Act include:
- domestic and international travel expenses, including COMCAR and Canberra-based self-drive vehicles
- travel allowances, including for overnight stays away from the member’s home base, and private vehicle allowance
- office accommodation (such as electorate offices, additional offices for certain office holders and Ministerial offices) and resources for those offices, and satellite office expenses
- the annual budget for office expenses, postage costs for official duties, photographic services at Parliament House, flags provided under the Chamber Flag Program, and additional resources provided to the Leader of the Opposition during election periods, and
- additional public resources determined by the Minister in exceptional circumstances.
Penalty loading in respect of contraventions
s38 of the PBR Act sets out the penalty loading that applies to claims for public resources that you make in contravention of your obligations. If you contravene any of the requirements of the:
- dominant purpose test,
- value for money test, or
- conditions for the provision of the public resource,
your claim may be rejected in accordance with s29 of the PBR Act or have to be repaid.
If the full amount of the claim is repaid within 28 calendar days of the claim, a loading will not be levied.
Any amount not repaid within 28 calendar days after the day of the claim attracts a 25% penalty loading and is a debt due to the Commonwealth (note that 'claim' has a defined meaning under s5 of the PBR Act, see Claims). This debt may be recovered from you in the relevant court (s57 PBR Act) or the Commonwealth may reduce the amount of public resources payable to you in the future to recover your debt relating to an incorrect claim (s57 PBR Act). In this circumstance a determination is made by the Department of Finance or the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA) (whichever is the relevant administrator) following consultation with the member.
No loading is payable where there was an overpayment made due to an administrative error within the Commonwealth, as in this case there would be no contravention by the member of the relevant obligations.
In addition, no debt or loading applies where a member relies on incorrect personal travel advice given by IPEA that they would not contravene their obligations. No such safeharbour exists in respect of advice provided by any other administrator, including MaPS.
Loading in respect of voluntary repayments
s39 of the PBR Act sets out the loading that applies to voluntary repayments that you make in respect of claims for public resources where s38 of the PBR Act does not apply – that is, where it has not been found that you contravened your obligations.
In such circumstances, subject to a determination by the Department of Finance or IPEA (whichever is the relevant administrator), a loading equivalent to up to 25% of the voluntary repayment is imposed if the repayment is made more than 28 calendar days after the day of the claim. A determination can only be made following consultation with the member.
The loading is offset against future claims for public resources you make – that is, future payments relating to public resources you claim will be reduced by the amount of the loading. Alternatively, you may choose to pay the amount of the loading voluntarily instead of the loading applying to future claims.
No loading is payable where there was an overpayment made due to an administrative error within the Commonwealth.
Where it has been found that the member contravened their obligations under sections 26, 27 or 28 of the PBR Act, the relevant claim is subject to the penalty loading under section 38 of the Act, regardless of whether the member has voluntarily repaid the claim. This is because section 39 of the PBR Act, in respect of voluntary repayments, only applies where section 38 of the PBR Act, in respect of contraventions, does not apply.
For the calculation of the 28 days, the ‘day of the claim’ is the day on which you make the claim. 'Claim' is defined in section 5 of the PBR Act, and means:
- a claim or request for public resources made to the Commonwealth, or
- the incurring of expenses that are payable by the Commonwealth.
The day of claim will therefore depend on the type of public resource and arrangement under which the resource is provided. If you submit a claim to MaPS or IPEA either by PEMS or a claim form, the day of claim is the date you submit the claim. If the expense is incurred by the Commonwealth by virtue of its contractual arrangements with preferred providers (for example, via the Commonwealth’s contracted office stationery and supplies provider), the day of claim is the date you receive the goods or services. Broadly speaking, the date of claim is intended to connect to the point in time that the Commonwealth becomes liable to pay for, or provide, the particular resource.
Accountability: dealing with potentially incorrect claims or misuse of non-travel related work expenses
IPEA is responsible for the audit functions relating to your work expenses, and the travel expenditure of your staff. These functions include reviewing the use of work expenses and potential misuse by parliamentarians.
- More about IPEA and its functions can be found at Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority.
Concerns about potential misuse of non-travel related work expenses (which are administered by Ministerial and Parliamentary Services (MaPS)) may arise in various ways. For example, queries or complaints may be directed to the Department of Finance (Finance), IPEA or the Minister; prompted by media coverage; or identified through the Finance’s or IPEA’s internal review procedures.
Where a concern arises in relation to non-travel related work expenses, the Protocol will be followed in accordance with an agreement between Finance and IPEA. Finance will initially review and deal with minor matters, but if misuse of a more serious matter is indicated the matter will be referred to IPEA.
Finance will not generally respond to the person/s who have raised concerns, nor provide information on the progress of a review or of any actions taken.
- Protocol - handling of potential misuse of non-travel related work expenses by the Department of Finance
Monthly management reports
IPEA is responsible for preparing and distributing monthly management reports (MMRs) to parliamentarians. Information relating to MMRs is available from IPEA.
Quarterly expenditure reports
Making a claim
Types of claim
Claims for payment of your non-travel related work expenses are administered by MaPS. Travel-related claims are administered by IPEA - see http://www.ipea.gov.au.
The information below relates to claims administered by MaPS.
Claims may be for:
- allowances, reimbursement of expenses already paid by you, or direct payment to a supplier for goods or services you have received; for example: payment of costs for printing or a privately leased satellite office
- expenses that have been incurred by you and paid directly under the Commonwealth’s contractual arrangements with the goods or services provider; for example: office stationery and supplies ordered from the preferred service provider.
Claims must be submitted to MaPS:
- online via the Parliamentary Expenses Management System, or
- by completing the relevant form.
See Forms for the types of claim form and supporting evidence required, and when and how these should be submitted.
Timing of claim
Claims should be made promptly
It is essential that claims are submitted promptly to MaPS, to ensure:
- the timely and accurate processing of payments and reporting
- providers are paid promptly for their services
- late fees and penalties are not incurred
- your claim can be assessed as soon as possible for compliance with your obligations under the PBR Act
- if any repayment is required, you provide yourself with the ability to repay the amount in full within 28 calendar days of the claim so you do not incur the 25% penalty loading
- payments can be included in your Monthly Management Reports and allocated to the appropriate financial year and budget (if applicable).
Provision of further information
MaPS may require further information about your claim. In this case, you should provide the information to MaPS within a reasonable period. Claims will not be processed until MaPS has received all relevant information relating to a claim.
Last updated: 22 January 2020