Friday, 2 January 2015

The ongoing Tony Abbott entitlement saga

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has an annual base salary of $507,338 per annum and a wide range of parliamentary entitlements.

In the second half of 2014 the Australian Department of Finance released the latest available list of paid entitlements.

On first glance, just looking at one 4-day period immediately raises suspicion about a claim for travel allowance by the Prime Minister.

Perth Now reported on 30 March 2014 that Abbott was in that city for party political purposes:

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott will fly his Cabinet to Perth this week in an attempt to rally last minute support for the Liberals in the upcoming Senate election.
With just one week to go before the re-run senate poll, Mr Abbott has decided to unleash his federal ministers on Perth as part of a week-long assault to muster support for the Liberals.
The move comes amid growing fears within the Liberal camp that they could lose a crucial third senate position in Saturday’s election – a result which would make it even more difficult for Mr Abbott to pass laws in the federal parliament.
Informed sources said yesterday Mr Abbott’s decision to fly his Cabinet to Perth was a strategic move to remind voters that there were already five West Australian ministers in the federal Parliament and that Liberal senators would be part of an already strong contingent of government representatives in Canberra.
While in Perth, Mr Abbott will also attempt to swell the coffers of the Liberal Party by being the headline act of a party fundraiser tomorrow night – charging $5000 a table to attend.
“Western Australia is at the heart of my Government. We have five Ministers from WA, three in the Cabinet, which means WA has an incredibly strong voice around the decision-making table and that will be on display when Cabinet meets in Perth on Tuesday,” Mr Abbott told The Sunday Times yesterday.
“If Western Australia wants a strong team and a better deal, there’s only one way to vote and that is to vote for the Liberal candidates who will have a strong voice within the Government…. [my red bolding]

On 31 March he squeezed in a visit to Pearce RAAF base in Perth and an appearance at a WA Telethon awards event, ahead of his headline appearance at the Liberal Party fundraiser on 1 April and the supposed official Cabinet meeting with his ministers on 2 April.

The Australian Dept. of Finance reported that between 30 March and 2 April 2014 it gave a travel allowance refund to Tony Abbott of over $2,000 for this particular visit to Perth:

Associated VIP flight costs totalled $17,470 to fly him and advisors/staff from Canberra to Perth via Sydney & Melbourne, plus a further $11,550 to fly both he and his entourage back to Canberra on 3 April.

Abbott has a long history of alleged abuse of parliamentary entitlements, including this instance as Opposition Leader and this example as Prime Minister of a manipulation of entitlement criteria.

Given that Tony Abbott tends to go into full electioneering mode ahead of any formal election campaign, I’m sure political tragics around the nation will be closely watching his expense claims this year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How can he claim any travel allowance?
Surely as PM all his travel expenses are paid for by the government.