MP is the cheapest on North Coast
PAGE MP Janelle Saffin is the least expensive politician on the NSW North Coast, according to figures released by the Federal Government.
A report released by the Department of Finance and Deregulation shows Ms Saffin racked up a total of $100,594.74 in travel and office expenses during the six months between July 1 and December 31, 2009.
The same report shows Ms Saffin claimed nearly $66,000 during that same period for expenses dating from before July 1. However, a Department spokesman said the “before July 1” period was open-ended, making it difficult to draw a fair comparison between MPs.
Ms Saffin's expenses compare to nearly $172,000 for her Labor colleague Richmond MP and Minister for Ageing Justine Elliot.
Elsewhere on the North Coast, Cowper Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker chalked up nearly $159,000 in expenses, New England Independent Tony Windsor came in at $196,660, and Paterson Liberal MP Bob Baldwin chalked up a bill of more than $148,500.
The cheapest North Coast MP after Ms Saffin was Hunter Labor MP and former Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, who chalked up just under $100,800 in travel and office expenses.
The most expensive was Lyne Independent Rob Oakeshott, who chalked up an expense bill of $325,673.94 – including more than $280,000 for “office facilities”.
The expenses include air fares, including the cost of travelling to Canberra for Parliamentary sittings, car hire, use of the Federal Government's chauffeur-driven “Comcar” service and taxis. It also includes the cost of bringing family members along on work trips, overseas travel on delegations or study trips.
Ms Saffin was surprised when told her expense bill was smaller than that of other North Coast MPs. She said she tried to keep her expenses down, but wasn't overly focussed on it.
“It's really up to people to see if they are getting value for money,” she said. “You can't do the job without resources.”
Ms Saffin said she had “no clue” why the expenses chalked up by different MPs varied so widely – although bigger seats tended to involve more travelling and a higher expense bill.
She said the expenses put through the Department of Finance and Deregulation were heavily monitored and MPs had to be able to justify every item.