Public deserves appointment transparency

There’s something a little unsavoury about Tasmanian Liberal Senator Stephen Parry handing a $160,000 job to ousted Lyons Liberal MHR Eric Hutchinson.

Senator Parry, who came under political fire earlier this week once the appointment was made public, defended Mr Hutchinson’s appointment, saying that the Prime Minister's office had approved the allocation of an extra staff member following the July federal election. 

Fairfax Media revealed a day later that two other defeated Liberal MHRs – Matt Williams and Karen McNamara – had also been employed as advisers by former colleagues.

This is a particularly bad look from the public’s perspective.

It’s no wonder the majority of Australians have such poor levels of trust in our politicians and their overall political system.

‘Jobs for mates’ is a terrible tagline, but in this case it would seem to be entirely appropriate.

The adviser’s position that Mr Hutchinson has taken up for Senator Parry’s office was never advertised.

That fact alone brings down some uncertainty over Senator Parry’s claim that the former Lyon representative is the “best person for the job”. How can any employer possibly know who is the best person for any position without advertising it to test the waters to begin with?

To be fair, this unpalatable situation isn’t new and is certainly not unique to the Liberal Party.

Former Treasurer Wayne Swan served as an adviser to then Labor Leader Kim Beazley after losing the Queensland seat of Lilley during the the 1996 election before winning back his seat in 1998.

Senator Parry has already come under media scrutiny this year for high levels of spending. Federal government Finance Department figures released in September showed that Senator Parry's expenses bill topped $620,000 over a six-month period between July and December last year. Of that, $323,000 was for an office fit-out, and a further $86,000 for overseas and domestic travel.

Any way you look at it, this is a bad look for the federal government, particularly when there is so much public contempt for proposed welfare cuts, specifically to single parent payments and pension.

It’s obviously a pretty blatant case of do what I say, not what I do for Malcolm Turnbull’s government.

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