Wednesday, 4 September 2019

It wasn't enough that the Morrison Government gamed the rules and began an unofficial election campaign months before 11 April 2019 at taxpayers' expense - the fiddle appears to have continued right up to polling day

On the morning of Thursday 11 April 2019 Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison visited the Australian Governor-General in order to formally dissolve Parliament at 8:30am and call a federal election. 

Once that was done a reasonable person would suppose the Prime Minister, along with every other MP and senator, would be obliged to use party and personal campaign funds until after polling day on 18 May. 

That may possibly have been the original intent when the rules were first drafted but over the years that has morphed into a loose obligation to use party and personal funds only after the official political party campaign launch.

These same rules also allow government ministers to campaign right up to polling day on other people's money by listing the expense claim as "Official Business", as well as getting free VIP jet travel around the country.

In 2019 Scott Morrison launched the Liberal Party campaign just 6 days out from polling day - playing the national electorate for fools

So instead of using Liberal Part funds from 11 April 2019 onwards, Scott Morrison spent $11,540 of taxpayers' money crisscrossing the country and staying overnight to give his stump speeches as well as glad handing voters and the party faithful. 

He also spent $1,786.40 on travel by Com Car at taxpayers' expense during the official federal election campaign. Morrison even made a Com Car claim on polling day.

These claims were on top of the est. $1,961.79 charge to taxpayers for fuel for his own car in the period which included the 38 day election campaign. 

That is a total of $15,389.19 charged to the taxpayer during the official federal election campaign. 

If he was an ethical politician he would immediately pay back that money back. 

See Scott Morrison's expense claims here.

The Deputy-Prime Minister & MP for Riverina Michael McCormack was even more of a drain on taxpayer wallets.

He spent $9,544 on overnight stays for his stump speeches and glad handing courtesy of the taxpayer and, a further $1,769.09 for campaigning in his own electorate.

Then there the $4,900 to travel to and from his own electorate on Day 14 of the official election campaign.

Taxpayer generosity apparently also extended to $4,373.52 in Com Car expenses so that he could campaign in comfort.

Then of course there was the est. $2,659.50 charge to taxpayers for fuel for his own car in the period which included the 38 day election campaign. 

That is a total of $23, 246.11 charged to the taxpayer during the federal election campaign. 

See Michael McCormack's expense claims here.

Readers can find other MP/Senator expense claims at

However, if you want a quick summary.....

The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 September 2019:

Taxpayers copped millions of dollars in bills for flights, charters, hotels and luxury cars as politicians and their staff jetted around the country campaigning in the federal election. 

Ministers also kept charging taxpayers for travel right up to polling day, despite a convention that most expenses after the official campaign launches should be paid by the political party...... 

The records reveal that despite the government being in caretaker mode, cabinet ministers still claimed almost $550,000 in travel allowance, air fares and luxury car transport during the campaign period - for themselves alone. 

Shadow cabinet ministers claimed about $385,000 in similar expenses. Ministers usually travel with multiple staff such as media and policy advisers, meaning the true cost of those trips is likely to be many times higher. 

A detailed breakdown of staff campaign costs is not available. But across April, May and June, cabinet ministers' staff racked up nearly $5 million in travel expenses, and shadow ministers' staff had travel bills of about $1.6 million during that period....

National Party ministers spent more than most, with the outgoing Mr Scullion racking up more than $100,000 in taxpayer-funded expenses during the campaign, including $80,000 in charter flights. He declined to comment. 

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud billed taxpayers more than $65,000 for travel during the campaign period, including $46,000 in charter flights around regional Queensland....

The profligacy was not limited to the major parties, with Katter's Australian Party leader Bob Katter spending $60,000 on travel during the campaign, including $50,000 on charter flights. 

Former senator Fraser Anning, the far-right Queenslander who lost his seat, spent $11,250 on flights alone during the campaign, including trips to Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.

Read the full article here.

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