There have been a number of reports in recent weeks concerning the ability of politicians to sniff out a trough and plant their noses firmly within. And this is not the first time such reports have made headlines.

The majority of those exposed in recent days, if not all, have been Government MPs. I would surmise however, that politicians of all persuasions (Federal and State) are in a bit of a rush to reimburse some of their claims before they become public.

The response of those so far exposed is extraordinary. Excuses such as “It may be justifiable, but I have repaid it to remove any doubt.” and “My staffer misunderstood the reason for the trip.” And then the wedding. And the overseas “study” trip.

Let’s be clear. I have no issue with the notion of generous allowances for politicians as the job is onerous, family negative and generally unappreciated.

I think though that we need to take stock of the various schemes and eliminate the “grey” aspects to what is a legitimate claim and what is not. We cannot rely on ethics simply because one man’s ethics is different to the next woman’s. If you have any doubt as to how that works, think about why we have Ethics Committees whose job it is to debate these matters.

There have been some suggestions that all claims should be published and publicly scrutinised monthly, and also a comment raised that if a front page report of a particular claim would prove embarrassing, then don’t make the claim.

I think the solution is complex, but if we get rid of the “guidelines” and replace them with some black and white alternative, we will go some way to resolving the issue.

Is the problem wider than just our politicians though? Do our colleagues in industry and the Public Service also take an elastic view of their entitlements?

My answer is yes. I suggest many of our politicians and others who have been guilty of elasticity, have been stretching it since they were still in school.

And finally, those among us who have never fudged a tax deduction, or “forgotten” to flex off for that 30 minute morning coffee break, should get up on our chairs and shout “Clean up your act!”.

If your business would like to review it’s criteria for expense claims, contact us at accross business. we will be happy to help you overhaul your processes.