MP’s expenses scandal claims for Ballarat and Ocean Grove total $174K

Former deputy speaker Don Nardella in parliament on Tuesday. Photo: Justin McManusDisgraced Melton MP Don Nardella chose not to live in his St Kilda property because it was “not spacious enough” and chose to live in an Ocean Grove caravan park so he could continue claiming a lucrative second residence allowance.


A report from parliament’s auditors PwCsaid a simpler option for Mr Nardella would have been to live in Melbourne or his Melton electorate after he moved from his home in Ballarat in 2014.

The auditors recommended that all allowancesbe removed and replaced with reimbursement for business-related expenditure. The audit also said second residence allowances should be tied to an MPs’ electorate rather than their choice of home base.

Despite being the Melton MP, Mr Nardella hadchosen to live outside the electorate since 2010and had claimed $174,836 in allowances for living outside Melbourne.

Mr Nardella moved to the Ocean Grove caravan park in 2014 after the breakdown of his relationship.

In Ocean Grove he entered into an arrangement with a family member, paying $200 in rent per fortnight despite owning property in Melbourne.

“The Member already had a second residence in Melbourne so that, at the time, a simpler option might have been to relocate to the second residence in Melbourne or Melton his constituency. The Member stated that the accommodation in St Kilda (second residence at the time) was not spacious enough,” the report said.

“Viewed from the perspective of the average person on the street, an objective observer, a position could be taken that the arrangement in this period with the Member’s close family may have been entered into to ensure that the member would continue to receive the second residence allowance.”

Read the auditor’s report here

The report also revealed Mr Nardella failed to provide tax returns, travel records to and from his declared home base, and an address for health insurance or banking correspondence.

The only evidence Mr Nardella provided to prove Ocean Grove was his home base was a drivers licence, vehicle registration, electoral enrolment and receipts for capital improvements.

The report revealed that since 2010, Mr Nardella had claimed $174,836 for second residences. Mr Nardella has refused to repay the money.

The allowance is meant to be for country MPs who must travel to Melbourne to carry out their duties.

The full report, tabled in parliament on Thursday, confirmed former speaker Telmo Languiller had intended to move his home base to Queenscliff but due to family circumstances he spent little time there.

He has repaid the $37,834 he claimed.

A timeline from the report

Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday morning he expected both MPs to remain in Parliament. But he had not yet read the report.

Serious flaws identified in the second allowance processincluded:

A lack of definition of what constitutes principal place of residence.No documentation required to prove a home base.Inconsistent requirements for statutory declarationsRichard Willingham, Benjamin Preiss


Under fire Melton MP Don Nardella’s total taxpayer funded livingclaims could tip almost $200,000 after it was revealed the disgraced member was based in Ballarat for four years.

Now the former deputy speaker could find himself on the end of an electoral commission fraud probe after the Coalition stated its intention to write to the Victorian and Australian electoral commissions seeking an investigation into the expenses scandal.

The former Labor member who was booted from the party earlier in the year listed 11 Parker Street, Lake Wendouree as his home base between 2010 and 2014, claiming the second residence allowancedesigned for rural and regional MPs who have a metropolitan base during sitting weeks.

The arrangement was revealed in state parliament by Legislative Council President Bruce Atkinson on Tuesday, who said Mr Nardella left the Ballarat address after a relationship breakdown.

Western Victoria MP Josh Morris said Mr Nardella’s position in parliament had been rendered untenable by the revelation.

“He has systematically misused the parliamentary entitlements system and he should seriously consider whether he should remain in parliament,” Mr Morris said.

The Lake Wendouree residence Don Nardella lived in between 2010 and 2014. Picture: Lachlan Bence.

Last month Fairfax Media revealed Mr Nardella along with fellow Labor MPTelmo Languiller had used the second residence allowance while living along the Bellarine Peninsula.

Mr Languiller has since repaid the$37,800 he had claimed through the entitlement, however Mr Nardella has deniedany wrongdoing and has declined to pay back any of the funds.

Questions have since been raised around whether Mr Nardella did in fact live at Ocean Grove after it was revealed he rented the property from family without a formal lease.

Mr Nardella notified the clerk of the Legislative Assembly that he had changed his primary address from Ballarat to Ocean Grove in April 2014, however Mr Nardella paid just $200 a fortnight for the coastal property and did not pay any bills.

Price Waterhouse Coopers is currently conducting an independent audit of parliamentary entitlements and earlier this month Mr Nardella notified the auditors he had recently moved out of his Ocean Grove home base.

Mr Morris said regardless of whether Mr Nardella didlive at the Ocean Grove address, he had already misused taxpayer funds.

Western Victoria MP Josh Morris

“He could have chosen to live in these places and not claim the allowance but he has despite it being very clearly for country members who need a city residence during parliament.”

Victoria Police is also investigating whether Mr Nardella has any case to answer.

Premier Daniel Andrews said he would wait for the PwC report and the police investigation to be completed before commenting on whether the two MPs should be booted from parliament.

Mr Nardella’s office was contacted for comment.

The Courier, Ballarat