CALARE MP John Cobb says his inclusion on a “name and shame” list of politicians who failed to certify their expenditure is a mistake.
The list, published yesterday, covered the period from January to June 2011, and Mr Cobb’s office said the federal MP’s reports from that time had been certified.
“It appears there was an error on the Department of Finance and Deregulation’s web page, which is currently being updated,” a spokesperson said yesterday.
“As of July 2011, it is no longer compulsory for politicians to certify entitlements and as a result there is now no option for certification on lodged reports.”
Regardless, Mr Cobb was in good company on the name and shame list alongside Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and former prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.
Serving and former parliamentarians are entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars in allowances a year for domestic and overseas travel, office fit-outs and family travel expenses.
Politicians are provided with a six-monthly account, or management report, of what they spend and should certify that the expenses were for legitimate reasons.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that signing off on the accounts is not compulsory, however the list is meant to act as a transparency measure.
In 2009-2010 flaws in the system, including self-certification being voluntary, were pointed out in an Auditor-General’s report.
Queensland Labor senator Claire Moore and senator John Faulkner have in the past called for greater accountability.
“Sometimes there are mistakes and it's part of your personal accountability as a parliamentarian to check the accounts," Senator Moore said during Senate estimates.
“There is public scrutiny and you have a special relationship with the community because you are spending taxpayers’ money."
Other politicians on the list, including Mr Abbot, Ms Roxon, Julie Bishop and Chris Bowen, also believe they have certified their expenditure and state the problem is with the Department of Finance.