"I can assure the Senate that I am not a member of the New South Wales Traders Foundation. I am, however, a member of the New South Wales Teachers Federation. I can assure the Senate—and this will come as a relief to the good parishioners of this church, I am sure—that I am not a member of the Clovercrest Baptist Church. Not only am I not a worshipper at the Clovercrest Baptist Church; I can also assure the Senate that I have not become a worshipper twice, which is the suggestion on this particular website. I can also assure the Senate that I have no investment properties, even though the website says I have. I can also inform the Senate that I do not receive a DFRDB pension, although the Herald website says I do. I can also inform the Senate that I do not have, nor have I ever had, a family trust which is bracketed as not applicable after July 2011; in my case it is not applicable before July 2011. Nor do I have life insurance, nor do I own a motor vehicle."I don't know if other parliamentarians checked the accuracy of what was published- Clerk of the Senate Dr Laing told Senator Faulkner no one else had brought errors to attention.
Senator Faulkner suggested it might be better all round if the Senate itself made its database of pecuniary interests, currently hand written hard copy provided by senators, "a little more user-friendly and searchable". Dr Laing agreed the Committee of Senators' Interests should take a look but significant resources, in short supply, would need to be allocated.
I'm sure that's true but it is 2012, after all.
As Senator Rhiannon has raised on several occassions the Scottish parliament does much better and is an admirable model. As I wrote six years ago it took a major scandal there to propel expense disclosures into the 21st century.
Senator Faulkner's questions on Monday follow:
Senator FAULKNER: I wanted to ask about the senators pecuniary interests register and access to it. There was a recent series of articles in a Fairfax newspaper about what was described as politicians' perks, which used information from the Senate pecuniary interests register. I commence by asking you, Clerk, whether you are aware of those articles.