Friday, 25 October 2013

The Don Randall saga becomes ridiculous

The West Australian 18 October 2013:

The WA Liberal had gone into hiding amid revelations he billed the Commonwealth last year to fly to Cairns where he had taken possession of a four-bedroom investment property.
The West Australian can also reveal Mr Randall had charged taxpayers earlier for a two-night stay in the north Queensland city in 2007, just three days after he bought the land.
Parliamentary records show Mr Randall claimed $414 in living-away-from-home allowance in Cairns on July 2 and 3, 2007, saying he was there as part of work on a migration committee.
Land title records show Mr Randall bought the land in Cairns on June 29 that year for $148,000.
Mr Randall insisted last night the 2007 visit had been within entitlement rules.

ABC News 23 October 2013:

Meanwhile, taxpayers also paid for the Coalition MP and his wife to fly from Perth to Melbourne on Saturday September 15 last year at a cost of $5,203, for what a Department of Finance document says was "sittings of Parliament".
Parliament sat last year the week before that date and resumed on Monday September 17. That Saturday night, the West Coast Eagles faced Collingwood in Melbourne in an AFL semi-final.

On 11 July 2012 the WA Liberal Member for Canning Don Randall informed the Dept. of Finance that he and his wife had entered a contract to build a house on land they owned in Cairns Queensland and on, 26 November that same year he informed the department that they had taken possession of this house.

In between those two dates Mr. Randall and his wife took an overnight trip from Perth to Cairns, billing Australian taxpayers for the following on the dates in question:

Travel Allowance for Don Randall
18 Nov 12 18 Nov 12 Cairns Electorate Business $354.00 **

** Incorrect rate paid. Adjustment to be reflected in a subsequent reporting period.

Airfare Don Randall
18 Nov 12 - Perth to Alice Springs 
18 Nov 12 - Alice Springs to Cairns
19 Nov 12 - Cairns to Brisbane
19 Nov 12 - Brisbane to Perth

Taxi 18 Nov 12 $90.91
Taxi 19 Nov 12 $109.09

Airfare Family Traveller
18 Nov 12 - Perth to Alice Springs
18 Nov 12 - Alice Springs to Cairns
19 Nov 12 - Cairns to Brisbane
19 Nov 12 - Brisbane to Perth

Total: $5,330.40

Since then Don Randall ha said he will repay this money and Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Warren Entsch MP were reported by The Sydney Morning Herald as stating:

Yet Mr Abbott, speaking on Fairfax Radio on Wednesday, suggested the trip was justified.
"The gentleman in question [Mr Randall] tells me that ... he went from Perth to Cairns to have some very important discussions with the whip," Mr Abbott said. The whip at the time was Leichardt MP Warren Entsch, whose electorate takes in Cairns.
But when quizzed by The Australian Financial Review, Mr Entsch refused to divulge the content of those discussions and admitted he did not know if they constituted "electorate business" as Mr Randall had claimed.

By 24 October Mr. Randall had changed his story when speaking with the Armadale Examiner:
Mr. Entsch is right to be cautious when responding to requests for verification in the present climate – especially if he were to find that there is no diary entry covering this alleged 2012 meeting.

After all, voters might turn their gaze to his own travel claims and recall his past lavish spending on the public purse:

The figures emerged as the Opposition also targeted Liberal MPs in Queensland over alleged travel excess, including the member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, over a visit to a space launch in the US where he spent $6900 a day at taxpayers' expense....
According to Mr Entsch's official travel returns he spent $77,000 on an 11-day trip to the US in July 2005 "to attend the launch of the space shuttle program and to hold discussions regarding the Joint Strike Fighter Program". [Sunday Tasmanian,8 July 2007,p5]

To recap. Thus far we see a West Australian MP who has now given two different explanations of why he went to Cairns in 2012 (and none as to why he needed his wife by his side on this expensive overnight trip) and, who has committed to paying back over $5,000 in travel expenses he denies he had improperly claimed. While at the same time we have a Prime Minister who has asserted that this same MP was engaged at the time in werry, werry, ‘portant but unspecified party business which could not have been conducted over the phone and, a Queensland MP and Government Whip who is not wholeheartedly backing either Randall's or his leader’s version of events.

* Stop laughing – this is serious *


John Fraser said...

Strange how Peter Slipper can be reported to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and have an investigation and criminal charges laid but the current Attorney General George Brandis gets reported to the AFP and they flick it back to the Finance Department.

Apparently the conga line of expense rorters, led by "Slick" Abbott ($600 to attend Peter Slipper's wedding), are beyond the reach of the Australian Law.

Anonymous said...

Delighted to be in total agreement with you on this one, Clarence Girl - all travel rorters should be sacked!

Anonymous said...

What bothers me most about the issue is Randall's statements "you might want to check the front bar of the Hilton Hotel in Melbourne on grand final day to see how many members of all parties are there" and "it was the media ...... opposition MPs had contacted him to assure they weren't fuelling the scandal" - so both sides of politics are Pigs with their Snouts in the Trough of taxpayer provided $'s!