Excessive pollie perk put to bed
QUEENSLAND MPs are slugging taxpayers $105 a night to bed down at State Parliament under an extraordinary perk that is costing $500,000 a year.
A News Queensland investigation has revealed the exploitation of the little-known allowance introduced by the Newman government is occurring on both sides of politics.
Regional MPs from the LNP, Labor and the cross bench earned lucrative sums last financial year, while city-based members also pocketed the perk for using bedsits available to them in the parliamentary annex.
So rampant is the rorting of the rules that a process was recently formalised allowing MPs to pocket the extra cash even when they left the Parliament precinct after 7.30pm to go home.
It is understood the government is seeking to intervene to scuttle the measure, despite strong resistance from its own back bench.
The cash saved would be used to help fund relief staff for Queensland's 93 electorate offices, which often have to close when employees take annual leave.
In a letter to MPs, the Queensland Independent Remuneration Tribunal said the government had asked for the perk for staying in Brisbane to be abolished.
"This proposal is on the basis that the government considers the daily travel allowance to be the least justifiable and (most) excessive entitlement provided to members, and would have the least impact on members' delivery of services to the electorates," it read.
In a written statement, Treasurer Jackie Trad confirmed the government wanted to scrap the allowance.
"This is a sensible, fiscally responsible measure," she said.
"Savings will be used to support electorate staff across Queensland, who I am sure all MPs agree work incredibly hard."
However the move to ditch the lucrative perk will be strongly resisted by MPs across the political spectrum.
Under the scheme, former Labor minister Bill Byrne earned $15,960 during 2016-17, while bill-dodging former member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson earned $9975.
Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders claimed $15,225, the equivalent of 145 nights at the parliamentary annex.
Member for Brisbane Central Grace Grace earned $2940 despite Parliament House being in her electorate, while Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk received $1470.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington earned $11,235 while her predecessor Tim Nicholls, who lives in Brisbane's inner northern suburbs, pocketed $3780.