Pederick resigns as whip over accommodation allowance scandal
However, the Member for Hammond has declined to answer questions about the matter.
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State MP Adrian Pederick has resigned from his position within South Australia’s government over an accommodation allowance scandal.
He will continue as the Member for Hammond, but will no longer serve as whip – or manager of government business – in the House of Assembly, a position which gave him an extra $30,000 in salary per year.
In a statement, Mr Pederick echoed Premier Steven Marshall’s suggestion he had stepped down as a precaution, and to end the distraction the matter had caused the government.
“I am confident I comply with the country members guidelines,” he said.
“However, out of an abundance of caution, and given the pressure that has been placed on my family, I have decided to step aside as government whip.”
He said he would continue to be a passionate advocate for people living in regional SA.
Opposition MP Tom Koutsantonis had called for Mr Pederick to be sacked from his role as whip over his use of the Country Members’ Accommodation Allowance.
Four government MPs – Stephan Knoll, Tim Whetstone, David Ridgway and Terry Stephens – had already resigned from their parliamentary roles after admitting they had incorrectly claimed the allowance.
South Australia’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption is now investigating claims filed by “a number of members of state Parliament” during the past 10 years.
Questions remain about allowance claims
The Country Members’ Accommodation Allowance, currently worth up to $234 per night, is available to MPs who live outside Adelaide whenever they have to pay to stay in the city overnight for work.
Mr Pederick lists his home address as being at Coomandook, but also has a property in the hills face suburb of Mount Osmond, according to the parliamentary register of members’ interests.
It is unclear whether Mr Pederick claimed the allowance, suggesting he had needed to pay for accomodation, on nights he may have stayed at his Adelaide property.
It is also unclear whether the cost of renting or paying off a home meets the definition of “incurring expenditure” required to claim it.
In any case, Mr Pederick had claimed the allowance for the maximum number of nights allowed – 135 – each year since 2010-11, according to a record of claims published by state Parliament on Tuesday.
He had also claimed the maximum amount payable for each of those nights away.
However, he submitted paperwork amending those claims on July 2 of this year – just four days after ABC News published the story that sparked the present scandal.
He had previously claimed to have been in Adelaide for work on Christmas Day and Boxing Day in 2011, and again on Christmas Day in 2012.
In the final version of the record, pictured below, he withdrew his claim to those three nights, worth a total of $645.
Opposition calls for Pederick to be sacked
On Tuesday, Mr Koutsantonis said it would have been hypocritical of Premier Steven Marshall to keep Mr Pederick in his job as whip in the House of Assembly when his claims to the allowance had been so recently amended without explanation.
Murray Bridge News sought comment from Mr Pederick, but was told by a member of his staff that he would not discuss the matter while it was being investigated by the ICAC.
The staffer declined to pass on even answer general questions, such as what sort of work took Mr Pederick to Adelaide so often, whether he stayed at a hotel while in the city, and whether he believed greater oversight of the allowance was needed.
How much money does an MP get, anyway?
According to the 2019 determinations of South Australia’s Remuneration Tribunal, the accommodation and meal allowance available to MPs who live more than 75 kilometres from Adelaide is worth up to $31,590 per year.
As a state MP, Mr Pederick is also entitled to:
A base salary of $169,250 per year
A “common allowance” of up to $17,728 for travel expenses, and
Another $35,660 for spending within his electorate
His position as whip previously gave him an extra $30,465 per year, or 18 per cent of his base salary.
For the sake of comparison, the median income for someone living in Mr Pederick's electorate of Hammond was $25,792 at the last census, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Photo: Peri Strathearn. Image of Mr Pederick’s amended claim form for December 2011: Parliament of South Australia.