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Overarching obligations

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The following obligations apply when you claim or use work expenses, allowances and public resources provided under Part 3 of the Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017  (PBR Act):

  • dominant purpose test (s26 PBR Act): you may claim or use public resources only where it is for the dominant purpose of conducting your parliamentary business 
  • value for money (s27 PBR Act): all claims you make or expenses you incur must achieve value for money, taking into account the need to conduct your parliamentary business
  • conditions are met (s28 PBR Act): you may only make a claim or incur expenses when all conditions in relation to the public resources are met
  • personal responsibility and accountability (s25(2) PBR Act): you are personally responsible and accountable for your use of public resources
  • preparedness to publicly justify (s25(3) PBR Act): you must be prepared to publicly justify your use of public resources
  • act ethically and in good faith (s25(4) PBR Act): you must act ethically and in good faith in using, and accounting for your use of public resources.

These obligations do not apply to payments in the nature of remuneration such as salary, electorate allowance, or a private-plated vehicle (PPV) or an allowance in lieu of a PPV provided under Part 2; nor to the insurance, legal assistance or injury compensation schemes provided under Part 5.

Consequences of contravening your obligations

If any of the dominant purpose, value for money or conditions for claiming obligations are contravened, a claim may be rejected in accordance with s29 of the PBR Act or have to be repaid. Any amount not repaid within 28 days of an incorrect claim attracts a 25% penalty loading, and is a debt due to the Commonwealth, and which may be recovered in court or set off against future amounts otherwise payable to you (see Accountability and Transparency). 

If you direct, or authorise, your staff to make arrangements on your behalf concerning expenses you intend to claim under the PBR Act – for example, ordering stationery for your office– you remain personally responsible and accountable for the expenditure. You must therefore be satisfied that your instructions to staff take into account your obligations to only claim expenses for the dominant purpose of your parliamentary business, ensure value for money and meet all conditions for claiming.

While Ministerial and Parliamentary Services and the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA) can provide you and your staff with advice and assistance, it remains your responsibility to ensure that your use of public resources is not only lawful, but publicly justifiable, and that you act ethically and in good faith. You should also bear in mind that IPEA has information gathering powers to support its functions (more about IPEA and its functions can be found at www.ipea.gov.au).

Five step checklist: overarching obligations

Guidance Material - Parliamentary business expenses – five step check

The following checklist may be a helpful reminder of your overarching obligations when making decisions or claims under the PBR Act framework:

1. Dominant purpose?

Is the dominant purpose of the expenditure for your parliamentary business (i.e. parliamentary duties, electorate duties, party political duties or official duties)?

Note: If you would have undertaken the activity regardless of your parliamentary business a claim must not be made.

2. Value for money?

Does the expenditure provide value for money, taking into account both financial and non-financial costs and benefits? Will it use public money efficiently, effectively and economically?

Note: the cheapest option may not represent the best value for money.
3. Rules and forms?
Does the expenditure meet all conditions for the claim under the Parliamentary Business Resources Act and Regulations, such as any limits or restrictions? Have you kept your own records of the claim? Have you used the approved form (if any)?
4. Ethical and in good faith?
Is the expenditure in the spirit of the legislation and is your claim being made in good faith?
5. Publicly justifiable?
Are you prepared to publicly defend your expenditure?

 

For more detailed guidance or to seek assistance please contact mpshelp@finance.gov.au and enquiries@ipea.gov.au.

Last updated: 12 December 2019