Victoria’s disgraced former deputy speaker Don Nardella will be forced to repay almost $100,000 he claimed in parliamentary allowances “whether he likes it or not”, the premier has announced.
Daniel Andrews has warned parliament will act against Mr Nardella as part of a major overhaul of MP allowances announced on Monday that aims to make perks and privileges accountable and transparent before “ordinary, hardworking Victorians”.
The overhaul comes after Mr Nardella and former Speaker Telmo Languiller were caught out claiming an allowance to live in coastal towns, instead of their metropolitan electorates.
“If he’s not done the right thing by the time these (reform) bills are in the parliament, which is just in a few weeks’ time, then the parliament will take the matter out of his hands,” Mr Andrews said on Monday.
“Parliament will reclaim the money from him. We will get the money back.”
The second residence allowance was originally designed to help country MPs keep a second home in the city when parliament sits, but loopholes meant Mr Languiller and Mr Nardella could claim the perk, an audit found.
As part of the overhaul, the allowance will now be restricted to only those representing regional seats.
MPs will also no longer be able to roll over travel entitlements from year-to-year or claim the costs of their partner travelling with them.
A parliamentary integrity adviser will be appointed to help MPs make “appropriate” decisions and at least quarterly, MPs will be required to publicly report what allowances or payments had been made to them.
An independent tribunal will also be introduced to set the pay of MPs, public sector executives and office holders.
Mr Languiller has since repaid the $37,800 he claimed, but Mr Nardella has refused Mr Andrews’ demands to hand back the cash.
Since 2010, the metropolitan MP has claimed $174,836 for having a secondary residence.
He first lived in Ballarat with a partner, but when that relationship fell apart in 2014, told parliament officials he moved to the seaside town of Ocean Grove instead of his St Kilda apartment, claiming $98,000 over almost three years.
Mr Andrews says he will seek advice on the best method to reclaim the money.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy says Mr Andrews has given Mr Nardella a “leave pass” on the eve of Anzac Day to continue drawing a salary from his parliamentary career.
“Don Nardella is the greatest rorter in Victorian parliamentary history. He should be booted out of parliament and made to pay the money back.”