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Accountability and Transparency

Overarching Obligations

The Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017 imposes overarching obligations.
The dominant purpose and value for money tests and specified conditions must be met. See s25, 26, 27, 28.

Reporting

Monthly Management Reports

Your Monthly Management Report (MMR) includes detailed monthly and year-to-date expenditure and transactional data for all of your travel and non-travel related work expenses.

The Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA) is responsible for preparing the MMR for all of your work related expenditure, and uses data provided by Ministerial and Parliamentary Services in relation to your non-travel related work expenses such as office expenditure.

You should carefully review your MMR each month to ensure it is accurate. You are responsible for maintaining accurate records to assist you to do this. Checking the information provided in each MMR as it is received, will enable you to:

  • ensure the accuracy of entries. (You must notify IPEA immediately of any MMR entries requiring amendment)
  • monitor expenditure of those items that are subject to a budget or cap
  • confirm that the expenditure for you and your employees is in accordance with the work expenses framework under the Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017 .

More details are provided with your MMR and are available from IPEA.

Publicly Reported Expenditure Reports

IPEA is also responsible for preparing and publicly reporting expenditure reports. Prior to publication you are required to certify that your claimed expenditure is in accordance with relevant legislative provisions. Careful review of your MMR each month will assist you with this process. Keeping a record of dominant purpose and value for money decision-making may also assist you when certifying your reports and, should this be required, publicly justifying particular expenditure.

For details see IPEA - Expenditure Reports.

Accountability

Consequences for Failure to Comply With Your Obligations

There are consequences if you fail to comply with your obligations under the Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017  (PBR Act).

If you contravene any of the requirements of the:

  1. dominant purpose test,
  2. value for money test, or
  3. conditions for the provision of the public resource,

your claim may be rejected before it is paid.

Or, if it has been paid, you may be required to repay all or part of the amount (or value of the resource).

Any amount not repaid within 28 days after the day of the claim attracts a 25 per cent penalty loading (s38 PBR Act) and is a debt the Commonwealth may recover from you (s57 PBR Act) (note that 'claim' has a defined meaning under section 5 of the PBR Act, see Claims).

Alternatively, 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).

You may also experience reputational damage if your reported work expenses do not meet community expectations for what is considered ethical, in good faith, or justifiable (see Section 25 Obligations). 

Dealing With Potential Incorrect Claims or Misuse of Non-Travel Related Work Expenses

The Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA) is responsible for the audit functions relating to your work expenses, and the travel expenditure of your staff. These functions include reviews of work expenses and potential misuse.

Concerns about potential misuse of non-travel related work expenses (which are administered by Ministerial and Parliamentary Services) may arise in various ways. For example, queries or complaints may be directed to the Department of Finance, IPEA or the Special Minister of State; prompted by media coverage; or identified through the Department’s or IPEA’s internal review procedures.

Where a concern arises in relation to non-travel related work expenses, the Protocol set out below will be followed. The Department 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.

The Department will not generally respond to those who have raised concerns, 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

This Protocol sets out the process followed by the Department of Finance (the Department) in handling the potential misuse of non-travel work expenses by a Senator or Member, or their staff (employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984).

The process is as follows:

1. Consideration of the matter by the Department of Finance

1.1 When a complaint is made, or the Department becomes aware of evidence which suggests that a senator or member, or a staff member, has misused a non-travel related work expense, the Department will initially assess and examine its internal records to determine whether the potential misuse is credible, having regard to:

a. the Department’s records of the use of the cited expense;

b. whether the cited use is or is not in accordance with the rules; and/or

c. whether the complaint may be malicious or vexatious.

1.2 If the potential misuse is found to not be credible, the Department will take no further action.  If the matter is credible, the Department will take the further action described in clauses 2 and 3 below.

2. Minor Matters

2.1 If the matter is assessed by the Department as credible and might represent misuse that is not of a serious nature, the Senator or Member may be contacted to provide further information or an explanation of the use of the expense.

2.2 Following consideration of the response provided by the relevant Senator or Member, the Department may decide either to take no further action or to pursue the matter further (including seeking a voluntary repayment from the Senator or Member).

3. Referral to Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA)

3.1 In the event of a more serious matter, the Department will refer the matter to IPEA for further consideration. Any further action would then be a matter for IPEA.

Claims

Making a Claim

Types of Claim

Claims for payment of your non-travel related work expenses are administered by Ministerial and Parliamentary Services. (Travel-related claims are administered by the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority - see http://www.ipea.gov.au.)

Claims may be for:

  1. allowances, or reimbursement of expenses already paid by you; for example: reimbursement of costs for a privately leased satellite office

  2. expenses that have been incurred by you and paid directly to the goods or services provider by the Commonwealth; for example: office stationery and supplies ordered from the preferred service provider.

A number of your work expenses can be claimed either way, that is, by Ministerial and Parliamentary Services paying the provider directly, or reimbursing you where you have paid the provider.

Submitting Claims

Claims must be submitted to Ministerial and Parliamentary Services:

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 Ministerial and Parliamentary Services, to ensure timely and accurate processing of payments and reporting, and in particular that:

  • 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 it can be made in full within 28 days of the claim so you do not incur the 25 per cent penalty
  • payments can be included in your Monthly Management Reports and allocated to the appropriate financial year and budget (if applicable).

Provision of Further Information

If Ministerial and Parliamentary Services requires more information about your claim, you must provide this within the period specified by Ministerial and Parliamentary Services. This will be at least 30 days after the day the goods or services were received, or paid for.

'Day of the Claim' for Repayment and Penalty Loading

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, any amount or value not repaid within ‘28 days after the day of the claim’ attracts a 25 per cent penalty loading (s38 Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017  (PBR Act)) and is a debt the Commonwealth may recover from you (s57 PBR Act). Note that where the 28th day is a Saturday, Sunday, or public holiday, the last day that an amount can be repaid is the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or public holiday.

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:

  1. claim or request for public resources is made to the Commonwealth; or
  2. the incurring of expenses that are payable by the Commonwealth.

This means that the day of claim will depend on the type of public resource and arrangement under which the resource is provided. 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.

Last updated: 12 November 2019