THERE is “absolutely nothing” stopping Labor parliamentarian Clare Scriven from opening an electorate office in the region unless she is seeking taxpayer funds to do it, South Australian Treasurer Rob Lucas has said.
However, Ms Scriven said repeated attempts to open a second office in Mount Gambier with her own money was being “met with brick walls” by the Legislative Council’s administrative head.
After being verbally denied permission to use a portion of her global allowance – a mostly discretionary entitlement allocated to MPs – to fund the permanent space, Ms Scriven offered to fund the office herself.
Ms Scriven is yet to receive a formal response on whether she can proceed with her own funds, but said she was faced with excessively complicated administrative procedures.
“I was told occupational health and safety requires two people to be on the premises at all times,” she said.
“I suggested I could have a part-time staff member and a volunteer.
“It seems like every time I come back with an answer, there’s another barrier.
“It feels like I am hitting brick walls.”
Mr Lucas dismissed Ms Scriven’s comments, saying “she can go her hardest” in opening another office if it is fully funded by herself.
While lower house MPs are eligible for two offices – one in the state’s capital and one in their electorate – Legislative Council members only have one office in Parliament House.
He said upper house MPs did not need permission from the Legislative Council’s administrative head to open a second office, unless seeking taxpayer funds to do so.
“Contrary to what Clare is saying, we are happy for Clare to spend her own money on an electorate office,” Mr Lucas said.
“Her complaint is we the taxpayers are not giving her enough money.”
The Clerk of the Legislative Council, who oversees the management and administration of upper house parliamentarians said he would provide a response directly to Ms Scriven “very soon”.
He said he was waiting on “one particular piece of information.”