Politicians' travel allowances increased because of rising costs in Canberra

Politicians' travel allowances increased because of rising costs in Canberra

Federal politicians are getting an increase in taxpayer-funded allowances for travelling to Canberra, while ACT-based MPs will be paid more in daily expenses to get to Parliament House.

As the government pursues widespread changes to MPs expenses prompted by rorts from former speaker Bronwyn Bishop and former health minister Sussan Ley, the independent Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal on Wednesday moved to increase travelling allowances for MPs to better reflect rising costs in the national capital.

Cashed up: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Cashed up: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.Credit:Andrew Meares

The daily travel allowance for Canberra during sitting weeks will increase slightly to $285, up from $276.

The tribunal also increased the daily expense allowance for ACT MPs and those from adjoining electorates who live within 30 kilometres of Parliament House.

ACT MPs Katy Gallagher, Andrew Leigh and Gai Brodtmann.

ACT MPs Katy Gallagher, Andrew Leigh and Gai Brodtmann.Credit:Elesa Kurtz

The rate will increase from $87 to $90, the same percentage increase for their interstate colleagues.

Tribunal members increased the payments to reflect travel expenses amounts set by the Tax Office.

ACT Labor MPs Katy Gallagher and Gai Brodtmann have refused to claim the controversial allowances for local politicians, while Liberal Zed Seselja and Labor's Andrew Leigh have previously claimed a combined amount of about $15,000 under the rules.

A spokeswoman said Dr Leigh no longer claimed the allowance.

Eden Monaro MP Mike Kelly and his Liberal predecessor Peter Hendy have both claimed under the rules.

High Court justices will also see an increase to travel allowances for Canberra sittings.

"The Tribunal takes into account increases in the ATO rates, which reflect increases in costs in Canberra, in determining its own Canberra rate," the tribunal said in a statement.

Government ministers and some Parliamentary office holders, excluding Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, can claim an allowance for meals and incidental costs in exceptional circumstances.

The amount is capped at $181 per day, a small increase from the previous rate of $177 per day.

The Prime Minister's rate for accommodation and food for each overnight stay other than in official establishments will increase from $565 to $571, following ATO expense advice for Australian capital cities.

The tribunal said motor vehicle allowances were unchanged.

MPs from outside Canberra who claim travel allowances for every sitting day will be eligible to take home about $18,000 from the change.

Base salaries for members of Parliament was increased in June to $203,020.

Under a 2 per cent increase, Mr Turnbull's pay rose by more than $10,300 to $527,800, while High Court Chief Justice Susan Kiefel's base pay rose to $584,511.

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Tom McIlroy is a political reporter for the Financial Review in the federal press gallery at Parliament House.

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