A Victorian politician who employs her teenage children as taxpayer-funded casual staff says the rules need to change - but she'll keep her family members on the books until that occurs.
Independent upper house MP Catherine Cumming has her 19-year-old son, 18-year-old high school student daughter, niece and a long-standing friend among her workforce.
She employs seven people part-time across one-and-a-half full-time positions.
"I'm in a political environment and you have to have people that you can trust, and I've hired people I can trust who are capable of doing the job," Dr Cumming told 3AW on Friday.
Federal MPs aren't allowed to employ family members, but there are no such rules in Victoria. Dr Cumming said she knows a handful of other Victorian MPs who also employ family members.
She was elected to Victoria's upper house as part of Derryn Hinch's Justice Party, before severing ties almost immediately after the November 2018 election.
"I was actually hoping when I was elected that the staff was already allocated," she said.
"I did not realise that I had to hire staff and run my office as well."
Dr Cumming said she believes the rules need to change, but she's not going to stop paying her family and friends using taxpayer money until she gets staff allocated to her.
"(I won't stop) until I can actually have a pool of staff, apolitical, employed by parliament, to do the job for the community," she said.
The Labor government declined to comment on the issue, saying only that "this is a matter for Ms Cumming and for the parliament".
A spokesperson cited the introduction of tighter parliamentary standards and clearer guidance for MP payment and entitlements.
Liberal opposition MP Tim Smith said the rules needed to be changed.
"The parliament and the people of Victoria are not an ATM for the Cumming family. It beggars belief that she thought it was appropriate to employ both their kids, her niece and their mates," he told reporters.
"It is totally unacceptable, it does not pass the pub test."
Australian Associated Press