Federal MPs and senators are passing on the cost of printing election-related material to the taxpayer in a practice once described as “double dipping” by the auditor general’s office. A Guardian Australia analysis of politicians’ entitlements shows that on average claims for printing and communications materials during an election campaign are twice as high as at other times. Funds are provided separately to parties for election campaigns via the Australian Electoral Commission, so using regular entitlements for campaign material may represent a double use of taxpayers’ funds that benefits incumbent politicians.
A landmark review of entitlements, published in 2010, recommended that access to the printing and communications entitlement cease after an election has been called to prevent politicians using the entitlement for “electioneering”. The recommendation was not adopted.
The department of finance website provides details on travelling allowances, overseas travel, domestic scheduled fares, car costs, office facilities, office administrative costs, family travel costs and telecommunications for six-month periods back to mid-2009. This period covers the 2010 and 2013 elections.