CANBERRA, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Retired Australian MPs and Senators will no longer be allowed to take taxpayer-funded business class flights, as part of a government crackdown following the nation's highly-publicized politicians' entitlements abuse scandal last month.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced he was immediately scrapping the Life Gold Pass, which allowed retired MPs ten free return business class flights around Australia each year.
In addition to the measures announced by the Prime Minister, the government's Special Minster of State Scott Ryan said legislation would also be introduced which would create a new compliance body to oversee expenses, following a scandal involving former Health Minister Sussan Ley.
Ley was found to have used taxpayer funds to fly to the Gold Coast to purchase property, while it was also revealed she billed citizens for a number of trips over multiple New Year periods, during which she attended a number of parties with high-profile Australians.
Ryan said the compliance body, called the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA), would keep MPs accountable, particularly when it comes to spending taxpayer money.
"Australians are entitled to expect parliamentarians spend taxpayers' money efficiently, effectively and ethically," Ryan said.
"We have the opportunity to show Australians that the current generation of parliamentarians will subject themselves to higher standards than ever before."
The government had previously indicated changes to the entitlements scheme; in the May budget last year, Turnbull foreshadowed phasing out the Life Gold Pass, but under legislation to be introduced this week, it will be abolished immediately.
"It was better to simply move swiftly if we're abolishing the Life Gold Pass," Ryan said.
The Special Minister of State added that the flagged changes had received "nothing but strong support from his colleagues", despite reports older MPs were concerned they would not get the benefits they were promised when they were first elected to Parliament.
"The introduction of this bill continues the (government's) progress towards the most extensive reforms to parliamentary work expenses in more than two decades," Ryan said.
According to a News Corp report, the Life Gold Pass scheme has cost Australian taxpayers more than 17 million Australian dollars (13 million US dollars) since 2001.