MPs allowed to spend millions of taxpayers’ dollars on radio and TV ads under new rules

Under current arrangements, MPs and senators can spend their «office budget» on flyers and printed ads, websites, office stationery and supplies, mobile signage and other items. However, radio and TV broadcasting was explicitly banned until now.

Special Minister of State Alex Hawke said the change was an "overdue modernisation".

Special Minister of State Alex Hawke said the change was an «overdue modernisation».Credit:AAP

Each lower house MP can spend $136,647 a year plus $1.019 for each electorate constituent, meaning most MPs have a total budget of about $238,000. Senators have a yearly allowance of $109,370.

Mr Hawke said the change was an «overdue modernisation» of the system, and there was no change to the total amount of taxpayer-funded allowances afforded to MPs.

He said the old rules meant MPs could send money offshore to social media giants like Facebook, but were prohibited from spending it on local television and radio ads.

«Labor is a party that lectures us about multinationals, but are opposing changes that take
expenditure away from social media giants like Facebook and put it into local Aussie communities,» Mr Hawke said.

The government also argues the changes make things fairer for regional and rural MPs because it is harder and more expensive for them to undertake leaflet drops, mail-outs and other forms of campaigning compared to MPs who hold metropolitan electorates.

«In confirming they will ‘fight’ these changes, Labor have demonstrated yet again that they have the wrong priorities,» Mr Hawke said.

«Labor are opposing the rights of disadvantaged communities to receive the same level of
communication from their members of Parliament that metropolitan communities receive.»

Labor is concerned that metropolitan MPs and senators will be able to pool their funds to pay for campaigns on issues of mutual interest.




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