Oh how we Canberra political journalists envy our British peers! They have a real honest to goodness scandal to cover about grasping politicians cheating on their expense allowances that has brought down the Speaker of the House of Commons. And we have to be satisfied with carping about whether members of parliament should be allowed to get a meagre pay rise. There is no justice but at least at the Sydney Daily Telegraph they tried this morning to redress the balance. Taxpayers, it exclaimed, are paying off federal politicians' mortgages to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars a year with a growing number of politicians buying homes in Canberra to live in during parliamentary sitting weeks - but are still claiming travel allowances.
It was hardly news really. It was to avoid the very kind of scandal that has brought the Westminster Parliament in to such disrepute that our Federal Parliament long ago adopted a system of giving MPs a flat rate allowance for every day they spend in the national capital. They can use it to stay where they want. The only surprise to me is that only one in five politicians chooses to buy their own sleeping quarters in Canberra rather than rent or stay in a hotel.