Saturday, 12 October 2013

Julie, Teresa, Barnaby, Scott, Stuart and Tony join George in the parliamentary entitlement rort corner - will more MPs follow?

Hot on the heels of Australian Attorney-General George Brandis being outed in the media for having inappropriately claimed attendance at a 2011 private wedding as a expense arising from duties as a member of Parliament, he is joined by the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Brisbane MP Teresa GambaroImmigration Minister Scott Morrison, Assistant Minister for Defence Stuart Robert and, serial offenders Nationals Deputy-Leader Barnaby Joyce and Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The Sydney Morning Herald 7 October 2013:

On Sunday, Fairfax Media revealed that three Coalition MPs - Julie Bishop, Barnaby Joyce and Teresa Gambaro - had claimed more than $12,000 in travel expenses to return from a lavish wedding in India where they were guests of billionaire Gina Rinehart.
Mr Abbott also confirmed he repaid $1095 spent in travelling to the wedding of former colleague Sophie Mirabella seven years ago. The return of the money was prompted by media inquiries last week.

The Attorney-General also attended the Mirabella wedding The Australian reported on 7 October:

Attorney-General George Brandis is checking his records to see if he claimed taxpayer-funded entitlements to attend former colleague Sophie Mirabella's wedding...

However, he later asserted that he had made no travel claim for that wedding.

Then Liberal Party MP for Makin Trish Draper and Liberal Party MP for Farrer (and present Assistant Minister for Education) Sussan Ley attended the 250 guest Mirabella wedding on 11 June 2006, but it is as yet unclear whether they claimed travel expenses. 

Liberal MP and intended Speaker in the House of Representatives Bronwyn Bishop was another Mirabella wedding guest - Ms. Bishop stated she paid her own expenses.

In what can only be described as a politically dark twist the Prime Minister, who as Opposition Leader relentlessly pursued the then Speaker Peter Slipper in relation to alleged parliamentary entitlement rorts, has admitted claiming travel expenses as a minister in the Howard Government for attending Slipper's 12 August 2006 wedding:

TONY Abbott has quietly repaid $609 in taxpayer-funded entitlements he claimed to attend the 2006 wedding of one-time colleague Peter Slipper.... 

The then Federal Treasurer Peter Costello was also one of the 200 plus guests at the Slipper wedding and claims that he was reimbursed for travel expenses as he had official business in Brisbane during that period. While fellow guest the then Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock is firmly stating that he has no intention of repaying expenses claimed as Slipper was a work colleague.

Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison at first flatly denied he had claimed travel expenses to attend the the wedding of WA Liberal MP Steve Irons, but soon had to join Assistant Minister for Defence Stuart Robert in repaying money for that particular 21 October 2011 event.

Stung by the public reaction to these disclosures, Coalition Government members are busy ferreting though the expense claims of the Labor Opposition and, thus far it has been relatively slim pickings

* Cartoon by Alan Moir


In November 2012 Liberal Party Member for Canning Don Randall and a family member flew from his home state of West Australia to Cairns in Queensland on unexplained "electoral business" which may have been connected with his investment property there - billing the taxpayer $5,259  for this trip and apparently charging multiple associated taxi fares to the public purse as well.

On 18 October 2012 reported that Don Randall will repay more than $5000 of taxpayer money he used to fly him and a family member to Cairns where he had bought an investment property and that;The latest coalition directory shows Mr Randall employs his daughter Tess as an "executive assistant". Fellow WA Liberal, Senator Chris Back, employs his wife Linda as his electorate officer and media assistant. The couple are in New York as part of a three-month taxpayer-funded delegation to the UN.

The Sydney Morning Herald on 20 October 2013 reported: Federal politicians have repaid taxpayers more than $20,000 in the three weeks since Fairfax Media first revealed two of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's top ministers had claimed thousands of dollars in entitlements for attending the wedding of close friend and Sydney shock jock Michael Smith....
But many MPs have refused to repay money for questionable spending, including Mr Abbott, who has - according to a Fairfax Media analysis - claimed more than $23,000 on trips associated with the 2012 Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge, the 2011 Bathurst V8 Supercar Race, the 2010 Melbourne Cup, the 2010 Boxing Day Test at the MCG and the 2011 Birdsville Races.

The West Australian on 8 October 2013 reported: WA Federal Liberal MP Steve Irons was forced to repay almost $11,000 in wrongly claimed airfares and car transport fees this year....
The West Australian revealed this year Mr Irons spent almost 130 nights in Melbourne and 20 nights in Adelaide over a two-year period, despite being a member for what was then the marginal seat of Swan.....
Travel records show one of the nights Mr Irons spent in Melbourne coincided with the debut AFL match of his son Jarrad for Port Adelaide in round one of the 2011 season. 

ABC News on 6 November 2013: Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says he will not repay thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money he spent going to rugby league matches last year.
The ABC has calculated Mr Joyce claimed $5,312.57 for flights, travel allowance and government car costs to attend State of Origin II in Sydney on June 13, 2012, and NRL finals matches on September 14 and 30 later that year.
His expense claims say he was on official business, something Mr Joyce reiterated today.
"Because you're an official guest. You've been officially invited by the National Rugby League, the National Rugby League has every right to have access to politicians," he said.
Under the guidelines, official business "is limited to properly constituted meetings of a government advisory committee or task force, or functions representing a minister or presiding officer".....

No comments: