Protocol – Dealing with Misuse of Parliamentary Work Expenses

The Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA) was established to provide greater accountability and transparency of the Parliamentary Work Expenses Framework (the Framework). IPEA provides assurance that parliamentarians’ work resources and Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 (MOP(S) Act) employees’ travel resources are spent in compliance with the Framework.

IPEA deals with possible misuse of work or travel resources at arm’s length from government. The Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority Act 2017 (IPEA Act) provides legislative powers for the auditing and reporting of parliamentarians’ work and travel resources and MOP(S) Act travel resources.

When IPEA becomes aware of information that indicates possible non-compliance with the Framework, IPEA may conduct a preliminary assessment. The assessment scrutinises the use of the work or travel resource and determines if a parliamentary business resource has been used.

Possible misuse

In the event of possible misuse, IPEA decides whether to undertake an assurance review or audit of the matter. IPEA does not undertake assurance reviews or audits at the request of parliamentarians or MOP(S) Act employees.

  • Under the IPEA Act, IPEA may audit any parliamentarian’s work or travel resource or MOP(S) Act travel resource as it considers appropriate.
  • IPEA may conduct an assurance review where a preliminary assessment indicates that a Commonwealth resource was used for a parliamentarian’s work expense or MOP(S) Act employee’s travel expense.
  • IPEA may conduct an audit where there are allegations of systemic or substantial misuse of work expenses or where there is an educative benefit.
  • An audit may also be a systematic and comprehensive examination of the use by all parliamentarians and/or MOP(S) Act employees of a specific category of work expense.
  • The Members of the Authority or the Chief Executive Officer may issue a notice requiring a person to provide information that is relevant to an audit by IPEA, as provided for under Part 5 of the IPEA Act. Criminal penalties apply for failure to comply with a notice, or for providing false or misleading information.
  • In the event of an audit, the parliamentarian or MOP(S) Act employee is accorded procedural fairness to provide comment on any findings.

Members of the Authority decide whether a matter is referred to the Australian Federal Police (AFP)

  • The Minister responsible for the AFP and the Minister responsible for the Framework are notified of a referral to the AFP.

Publication of audits

  • Members of the Authority decide whether, or not, to publish their decision(s).