I wish to correct erroneous reports regarding the arrangements around possible debts for parliamentarians ruled ineligible by the High Court.
Consistent with previous cases, where the High Court has ruled a parliamentarian ineligible, consideration will be given to the potential debt to the Commonwealth that arises from past payment of salaries and allowances, and other costs of office.
The Department of Finance, the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority and the Department of the House of Representatives (for Members of the House) or Department of the Senate (for Senators) will determine the appropriate action regarding each debt – pursuant to requirements in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.
The process is underway to calculate debts, with officials currently working to determine the relevant details for each individual involved.
In similar cases earlier this term, these debts have comprised salaries and electorate allowances, as well as non-salary expenses, including superannuation, staff expenses and travel expenses.
Any action relating to debts to the Commonwealth are the responsibility of the relevant department and officials, not parliamentarians or ministers.
For any debts that the former parliamentarians owe to the Commonwealth, they will be eligible to apply for a waiver of debt, as can anyone with a debt to the Commonwealth.
I regularly receive and consider applications for a debt waiver from Australians with debts to the Commonwealth, to agencies such as Centrelink or the Australian Tax Office.
I consider each case on its merits. I intend to continue this practice.