Prime Minister Tony Abbott has urged members of Federal Parliament to behave responsibly at this year’s Schoolies celebrations.
With the parliamentary year at its end, Mr Abbott reminded sitting MPs that they were the representatives – and role models – for all Australians.
“It’s been a big year for a lot of you, particularly members of my newly elected government,” said Mr Abbott to the class of 2013. “I know you’ve all worked very hard and need to let off some steam. But remember, Schoolies is not just a place for cool music and cool threads. It’s a place for cool heads. Act responsibility, consume responsibly and, most of all, claim responsibly.”
Mr Abbott’s reminder about the new rules for claiming parliamentary expenses drew groans from his audience. Whereas expenses were previously reimbursed for social events such as weddings, football games and Schoolies, politicians now need to provide evidence of a direct connection between their jobs and their attendance.
“People complain that politicians don’t listen to young people, then this happens,” grumbled one Labor backbencher afterwards. “Do you realise how embarrassing it is walking around the Gold Coast asking young women if they are 18? I should be allowed to talk to a young person, whether they are on the electoral roll or not.”
A high-profile Coalition MP expressed similar dissatisfaction with the new rules.
“I attend Schoolies every year to chaperone Australia’s future voters and to hear what they have to say about things I put to them. Accommodation is very expensive, not to mention the price of food and drink. Now I have to provide proof of everything – including photographs of the beautiful young people I speak with. It’s political correctness gone mad!”
For more stories on politicians’ expenses claims, click HERE.