Monday, 9 December 2013

Julie Bishop. What a coincidence

Julie Bishop is an AFL fan.  Until recently she was a board member of the West Coast Eagles club.(1)  Bishop has also recently been described as a thrifty and no fuss traveller who has eschewed first class travel for herself and her department to save taxpayer funds. (2)

So given her concern for taxpayer funds there’d be no chance she would have arranged her official travel to coincide with West Coast Eagles away games or other major AFL games.  Would there? 

Despite being on the West Coast Eagles board, attending AFL games seems to have been official parliamentary duty for Julie Bishop. 
  • A quick check of her Parliamentary Entitlement Reports shows that Bishop just happened to travel - for work related purposes at taxpayer expense - on 13 occasions to places and at times when her beloved West Coast team were playing away games or finals between July 2009 and October 2012. 
  • And Bishop reported additional official travel with entitlement claims that coincided with a futher 13 finals and blockbuster AFL games.
  • Bishop actually declared that she was given tickets to 3 grand finals but still claimed official travel and entitlements to attend each of these games. 
But most damning and comical: there were 5 West Coast – Collingwood games played in Melbourne between 2010 and 2012.  And Julie Bishop just happened to be in Melbourne – on work-related duties at the taxpayer expense - for all five games. 

It’s like a scene from Murial’s Wedding.   Can’t you just imagine the West Coast players (a la Bill Hunter):  “Julie Bishop.  What a coincidence”  

(1) http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/foreign-minister-julie-bishop-resigns-as-eagles-board-member-as-workload-increases/story-fnhocxo3-1226772023473
(2) http://www.news.com.au/national/foreign-minister-julie-bishop-is-australias-own-thrifty-iron-lady/story-fncynjr2-1226761713569

 

SUMMARY 

West Coast Eagles away games

In July 2009 Melbourne v West Coast at MCG and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne – at the taxpayers’ expense
 

In August 2009 Adelaide v West Coast in Adelaide and Julie Bishop happens to be in Adelaide – at the taxpayers’ expense
 

In July 2010 Collingwood v West Coast in Melbourne and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne – at the taxpayers’ expense
 

In May 2011 Collingwood v West Coast in Melbourne and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne – at the taxpayers’ expense
 

 

 



In July 2011 Western Bulldogs v West Coast at MCG and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne  – at the taxpayers’ expense



 



In Sept 2011 qualifying final Collingwood v West Coast at MCG and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne – at the taxpayers’ expense  






In Sept 2011 preliminary final Geelong v West Coast at MCG (afternoon) and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne – at the taxpayers’ expense




 


In March 2012 Preseason final Adelaide v West Coast in Adelaide and Julie Bishop happens to be in Adelaide – at the taxpayers’ expense
 

In April 2012 Greater Western Sydney v West Coast in Sydney and Julie Bishop happens to be in Sydney – at the taxpayers’ expense
 

In April 2012 Richmond v West Coast in Melbourne and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne – at the taxpayers’ expense
 

In June 2012 Collingwood v West Coast at MCG and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne – at the taxpayers’ expense


   





In August 2012  Hawthorne v West Coast at MCG and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne – at the taxpayers’ expense





 




In Sept 2012 Collingwood v West Coast at MCG and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne 
– at the taxpayers’ expense
  
Other blockbuster games
In July 2009 Carlton v Collingwood at MCG and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne

– at the taxpayers’ expense
 
In August 2009 Richmond v Collingwood at MCG and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne
– at the taxpayers’ expense
 
In May 2010 Essendon v Richmond at MCG and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne
– at the taxpayers’ expense
 
In June 2010 Sydney v Collingwood at ANZ in Sydney and Julie Bishop happens to be in Sydney
– at the taxpayers’ expense
 
In April 2011 Collingwood v Carlton at MCG and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne
– at the taxpayers’ expense
 
In July 2011 Carlton v Collingwood at MCG and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne
– at the taxpayers’ expense
 
In June 2012 Carlton v Hawthorne at MCG and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne
– at the taxpayers’ expense
  
Other finals
In September 2009 Brisbane v Carlton in Brisbane and Julie Bishop happens to be in Brisbane

– at the taxpayers’ expense
 
Grand final in Sept 2009 St Kilda v Geelong and Julie Bishop happens to be in Melbourne – at the taxpayers’ expense
 
Grand final in Sept 2010 Collingwood v St Kilda and Julie Bishop has Grand Final tickets and happens to be in Melbourne – at the taxpayers’ expense
 
Grand final replay in October 2010 Collingwood v St Kilda and Julie Bishop has Grand Final tickets again and just happens to be in Melbourne – at the taxpayers’ expense

Grand final in October 2011 Collingwood v Geelong and Julie Bishop has Grand Final tickets and happens to be in Melbourne – at the taxpayers’ expense
 
Grand final Sept 2012 Hawthorne v Sydney and Julie Bishop happens to be in town
– at the taxpayers’ expense
 
All up that's 26 AFL games between July 2009 and October 2012 where Julie Bishop just happened to be in town.

 

 


DETAILS


Consider the 2009 season from July 2009 onwards:

4 July 2009 Melbourne v West Coast at MCG
  • West Coast play in Melbourne and Bishop happens to be in town this day. 
  • Fly from Sydney to Melbourne on 2/7 (it appears the cost of flights were refunded), fly Melbourne to Sydney at taxpayer expense on 4/7 (and on to Perth on the 5th $1696).  No claim of Travel Allowance.  Comcar costs of $80. 

22 August 2009 Adelaide v West Coast in Adelaide
  • Bishop just happened to be in Adelaide on the day of this game.
  • Fly at taxpayer expense from Melbourne to Adelaide on 21/8 ($409 Can – Melb – Adel).  Travel Allowance in Adelaide of $350 + $117.  Fly Adelaide to Perth on 23/8 ($1085). Comcar costs of $237

There is also evidence Bishop was in Melbourne at the time of some AFL blockbuster games:
24 July 2009 Carlton v Collingwood at MCG
  • Bishop travels all the way to Melbourne for one night that coincides with this blockbuster Friday night game.  Fly from Perth to Melbourne on 23/7, fly Melbourne to Perth on 24/7 ($2406).  Travel Allowance of $406.  Comcar costs in Melbourne of $375. 

15 August 2009 Richmond v Collingwood at MCG
  • Bishop again, just coincidentally I’m sure, happened to be in Melbourne. 
  • Fly from Canberra to Melbourne on 13/8 and return Melbourne to Canberra on 16/8 ($2406).  Travel Allowance for 3 nights of $1218.  Comcar costs in Melbourne on 15th of $157. 

Then there was the travel coinciding with the finals
Final week 1: Brisbane v Carlton in Brisbane 5 Sept.
  • Bishop was coincidentally also in Brisbane at this time. 
  • Fly Darwin to Brisbane on 5/9 ($1084).  Travel Allowance for Gold Coast ($340).  Fly Coolangatta to Sydney on 6/9 ($422).  Comcar costs in Brisbane of $414.

And the Grand final on 26 Sept 2009. St Kilda v Geelong.
  • Bishop happened to be in Melbourne on the day of the grand final. 
  • Fly Brisbane to Melbourne on 25/9/09 (Perth – Bris – Melb $2155).  Fly Melbourne to Sydney on 26/9/09 (Melb – Syd – and onto Perth the next day $1710).  Travel Allowance on 25/9/09 in Melbourne ($415).  Comcar costs in Melbourne of $469. 

And then there is the 2010 season. 

3 July 2010 Collingwood v West Coast in Melbourne
  • Bishop happens to be in Melbourne at the time West Coast play Collingwood.  I wonder if she managed to get to the game? 
  • Fly Sydney to Melbourne on 2/7/2010 and fly Melbourne to Perth on 4 July ($1593). No claim of Travel Allowance.  Comcar costs in Melbourne of $140.

The blockbuster games:
22 May 2010 Essendon v Richmond at MCG
  • Bishop travels to Melbourne for just one night and it just happens to coincide with this Saturday night blockbuster game. 
  • Fly Perth to Melbourne on 22 May ($2410).  Travel Allowance in Melbourne ($415).  Fly Melbourne to Canberra on 23 May ($362).  Comcar costs in Melbourne of $247.

26 June 2010 Sydney v Collingwood at ANZ in Sydney
  • Bishop travels to Sydney for one evening and coincidentally there is a Sydney v Collingwood game on that very night.
  • Fly Canberra to Sydney on 26 June ($226 + $45).  Travel Allowance in Sydney ($415).  Fly Sydney to Melbourne on 27 June ($480).  Comcar costs in Sydney of $247.

And then the finals
Grand final:  Collingwood v St Kilda 25 Sept. 
  • Bishop declares gift of tickets to game. And claims official expenses for travel and accommodation.
  • Fly Perth – Melbourne on 24/9 ($1177).  Travel Allowance for 2 nights ($840).  Fly Melbourne to Canberra on 26/9 ($257).  Comcar costs in Melbourne ($654). 

Grand final replay 2 October.
  • Bishop declares gift of tickets to game. And again claims work-related travel expenses. 
  • Fly Canberra to Melbourne on 1/10 and Melbourne to Perth on 2/10 ($1592).  Travel Allowance in Melbourne for 1 night ($420).  Comcar costs in Melbourne ($515). 

And then the 2011 season:

29 May 2011 Collingwood v West Coast in Melbourne (afternoon game)
  • Bishop again just happens to travel to the same city as a Collingwood - West Coast game. And claims official travel expenses. 
  • Fly Sydney to Melbourne on 26 May ($1233.58).  Travel Allowance in Melbourne for 3 nights ($1260).  Fly Melbourne to Canberra on 29 May.  Comcar costs in Melbourne ($481).
30 July 2011 Western Bulldogs v West Coast in Melbourne (afternoon game)
  • Bishop is in Melbourne on official duties and claiming travel expenses, but tweets that she is at the ground watching the game.  What a coincidence.
  • Fly Perth to Melbourne on 28 July.  Travel Allowance in Melbourne for 2 nights ($560).  Charter flight from Melbourne to Wangaratta after game on 30 Julty ($3732).  Comcar costs in Melbourne ($277).

And the blockbusters again:
8 April 2011 Collingwood v Carlton at MCG.
  • Fly Sydney to Melbourne on 7 April, but no report of return flight.  No Travel Allowance and no Comcar on day of game.  But Comcar expenses in Melbourne on 7 April and in Sydney on 9 April. 

16 July 2011 Carlton v Collingwood at MCG
  • Was Bishop able to attend this afternoon game in Melbourne prior to her flight back to Perth?
  • Fly Alice Springs to Melbourne on 15 July ($759).  Travel Allowance in Melbourne on 15 July ($420).  Fly Melbourne to Perth on 16 July ($759).  Comcar costs in Melbourne of $494. 

And the final series:
Final week 1: Sept 10 2011 Collingwood v West Coast at MCG
  • Bishop again in town for one night which coincides with a West Coast – Collingwood match! But clearly it was all about the official duties. 
  • Fly Canberra to Melbourne on 10 Sept ($476).  Travel Allowance in Melbourne on 10 Sept ($424).  Fly Melbourne to Canberra on 11 September ($317).  Comcar costs in Melbourne of $512. 

Final week 3: Sept 24 2011 Geelong v West Coast at MCG (afternoon game)
  • Bishop spends one night in Melbourne on official duties.  Claims travel expenses.  Just coincidentally at the same time West Coast play in finals. Bishop tweets how exciting it had been to watch the eagles at the MCG despite the loss. 
  • Fly Brisbane to Melbourne on 23 Sept ($864).  Travel Allowance for overnight stay in Melbourne ($424).  Fly Melbourne to Perth on 24 Sept ($1346).  Comcar costs in Melbourne of $496. 

2011 Grand final: Collingwood v Geelong 1 October
  • Bishop declares tickets to game. But again, it's official duties and taxpayer funds. 
  • Fly Perth to Melbourne on 30/September ($1346).  Travel Allowance for 1 night ($424).  Fly Melbourne to Adelaide on 1 October ($266).  Comcar costs in Melbourne ($725). 

And then the 2012 season

This year Bishop really goes for it, commencing before the season even begins. 
17 March 2012 Preseason final Adelaide v West Coast in Adelaide
  • WCE are in the preseason final and, coincidentally Bishop happens to be in Adelaide on the very same day  - arriving the day of the match and departing the following day (at taxpayer expense of course)
  • Fly Perth to Adelaide 17 March. Travel Allowance for overnight stay in Adelaide ($123). Fly Adelaide to Sydney (and onwards) on 18 March (Total flights $3364).  Comcar costs in Adelaide of $80. 

15 April 2012 Greater Western Sydney v West Coast in Sydney
  • WCE play the new GWS team in Sydney and coincidentally Bishop happens to be in Sydney at the same time. 
  • Fly Adelaide to Sydney on 15 April ($1328 includes later Melb to Sydney flight).  Travel Allowance for overnight stay in Sydney ($424).  Fly Sydney to Melbourne on 16 April ($574).  Comcar costs in Sydney of $174. 

29 April 2012 Richmond v West Coast in Melbourne
  • Another WCE match in Melbourne and Bishop is in town again. 
  • Fly Perth to Melbourne on 25 April ($1434).  Travel Allowance for 4 nights in Melbourne, including 28th and 29th ($1696).  Fly Melbourne to Perth on 30 April ($826).  Comcar costs in Melbourne on 29 April ($314).

23 June 2012 Collingwood v West Coast at MCG. 
  • This is getting comical.  WCE in Melbourne to play Collingwood and who’s in town? 
  • Fly Canberra to Melbourne on 21 June (cost with Perth flight $2008).  Travel Allowance for 3 nights in Melbourne ($1272). Flight Melbourne to Sydney (then Canberra $983).  Comcar costs on 23rd of $158.

31 August 2012  Hawthorne v West Coast at MCG
  • What more can be said at this point.  One night in Melbourne on official duties that coincides with a big Friday night match involving WCE
  • Fly Sydney to Melbourne on 31 August.  Travel Allowance for overnight stay in Melbourne ($424).  Fly Melbourne to Perth on 1 September (total cost from Perth $2122).  Comcar costs in Melbourne of $209. 

And the blockbusters again:
    29 June 2012 Carlton v Hawthorne at MCG.
    • Fly Canberra to Melbourne on 28 June.  Travel Allowance for 2 nights in Melbourne ($848).  Fly Melbourne to Sydney (total cost flights $1465). 

    And the final series:
    Final week 1: WCE play in Perth.

    Final week 2: Sept 15 2012 Collingwood v West Coast at MCG (Saturday night game)
    • No. Please stop it.  It’s just too much.  “Deidre Chambers!  What a coincidence”. 
    • Fly Canberra to Melbourne on 15 Sept ($321).  Travel Allowance in Melbourne on 15 Sept ($424).  Fly Melbourne to Canberra on 16 September ($509).  Comcar costs in Melbourne of $447. 

    2012 Grand final: Hawthorne v Sydney 29 September 2012
    • Bishop spends a few days in Melbourne.  On day before game flies Sydney to Melbourne ($365).  Travel Allowance for three nights (26 to 28 September) in Melbourne ($1287).  Fly Melbourne to Adelaide (and on to Perth, $1607).  Comcar costs in Melbourne on 28th and 29th of $230. 

    Tuesday, 22 October 2013

    Hockey's own Age of Entitlement. Joe the Farmer's travel claims

    Joe Hockey has talked of the end of the age of entitlement, and spoken of how we citizens have unreasonable expectations and need to be more self reliant.  It seems proper therefore to scrutinize JoHo's own behaviour and expectations.  For example he has previously been criticised for failing to declare and disclose his own interests (1, 2).  Perhaps there is more. 

    JoHo owns property outside Cairns in North Queensland including a farmstay on the Atherton Tablelands. He purchased an additional property around Feb 2010.  Coincidentally, Cairns is also a common destination for JoHo on his work-related travel. The information listed below from his parliamentary entitlement reports show that over the 3 years from 2010 to 2012 JoHo travelled to Cairns 9 times at the taxpayer expense.  He spent over $9500 of taxpayer funds on occasions where there is little evidence of work activity.  On 2 occasions he hired a vehicle at taxpayer expense during his stay.  It is on the public record that he was on leave on one occasion when he travelled to FNQ, and there is solid evidence that he stayed at the Atherton Tablelands.

    Could it be that while calling for the end of the age of entitlement for others JoHo has been using public funds and arranging his travel itinery to regularly visit his farm in FNQ?


    On 1/4/10 (only a month or so after purchasing his new property) JoHo flew from Sydney to Cairns ($956.55 at taxpayer expense).  He hired a car for $122.82 at taxpayer expense which is strange as it is more usual to use a comcar or a taxi for work purposes.  He made no claim for Travel Allowance for his overnight stay in Cairns, and the following day (2/4/10) flew from Cairns back to Brisbane (another $732.27 at taxpayer expense).  There is no record I could find of any interviews, transcripts or public appearances in Cairns/FNQ during this period to demonstrate his work activities.  Pehaps I am cynical but could the hire car have been to travel to his property on the Atherton Tablelands outside of Cairns?  I think this qualifies as a dubious travel claim.

    On 14/7/10 JoHo flew from Sydney to Brisbane to Gladstone.  He claimed Travel Allowance for his stay in Gladstone.  The next day (15/7/10) he flew from Gladstone to Mackay and on to Townsville (all at taxpayer expense).  In Townsville he used a Comcar for his travel (cost of $770.00). But he also hired a car in Townsville on 15/7 which he returned in Cairns three days later on 18/7.  This cost the taxpayers a further $316.12.  Despite claiming travel allowance in Gladstone, JoHo claimed no Travel Allowance for these next three nights.   Then on 18/7/10 he flew from Cairns to Sydney (total cost of $1,157.79 for flights from Mackay to Townsville and from Cairns to Sydney).  Again, I could find no record of any interviews, transcripts or public appearances in the Cairns region to demonstrate his work activities.  This seems another dubious travel claim.  The election was called on 17/7/10.
     
    Less than a month later, JoHo is back in FNQ, claiming Travel Allowance and the cost of some flights.  He is clearly campaigning for the upcoming election (3) and perhaps supported by an LNP private charter (declared in his pecuniary interest register on 7/10/10). This travel may be legitimate.

    Two months later on 10/10/10, after the federal election, JoHo again travels back to FNQ. His entitlement reports show he flew (at taxpayer expense) from Sydney to Cairns ($924.02).  He was accompanied by a family member (flight costs a further $924.02).  It is strange that once he arrived in Cairns he made no claims for Travel Allowance, no Comcar costs, no taxi, no hire car, and no return flights.  However it’s even stranger when you realise that at the very same time (10/10/10) a news story on ABC radio news program “The World Today” reported that Mr Hockey was unable to comment because he was “on leave” ! (4)  This is a decidedly dubious travel claim.

    In April the following year (2011) JoHo made his next official trip back to FNQ.  On 1/4/11, he flew from Sydney to Darwin and claimed Travel Allowance ($122) for his overnight stay in Darwin, and comcar costs of $690 over those two days.  On 2/4/11 he flew from Darwin to Cairns, but once in Cairns did not claim Travel Allowance or any comcar expenses.  Having spent a night in the Cairns region, he flew from Cairns back to Sydney the following day (3/4/11).  All up, his flight costs were $2664.57.  Interestingly, on the return flight from Cairns JoHo is joined by a family member flying at taxpayer expense ($1012.13).  Again, I could find no record of any interviews, transcripts or public appearances in the Cairns region to demonstrate his work activities.  This seems a seriously dubious travel claim as the deviation to Cairns seems not to be for work purposes.

    Three months later JoHo flew from Townsville to Cairns on 13/7/11.  He claimed Travel Allowance in Cairns for two evenings. While there were no comcar, taxi or hire car expenses claimed, there was evidence of work activities. He attended a public morning tea with Warren Entsch on 14/7/11 and was present when redevelopment plans for the Port Douglas Sheraton Mirage were unveiled (5).  JoHo flew from Cairns to Sydney on 15/7/11.  Although a little strange, this is likely to reflect duties as a shadow minister and a legitimate use of travel entitlements.

    In October 2011, JoHo again flew from Brisbane into Cairns (7/10/11, cost included in other flights).  He claimed Travel Allowance ($265) for one evening.  But despite apparently remaining in Cairns for the following two nights, he does not claim further Travel Allowance.  On 10/10/11, JoHo flew from Cairns to Brisbane at a cost of $1099.  I could find no record of any interviews, transcripts or public appearances in the Cairns region during this period.  However, Steve Lewis from News Limited reports that “Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey is understood to have done three dinners, two cocktail functions and a fundraising lunch across three states in the past week alone” (6)  (Over the previous week he flew at taxpayer expense between Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Karratha, Brisbane and Cairns.  Maybe this should be looked at further).  Perhaps this is further travel with personal benefits or perhaps it is travel to coincide with an LNP fundraising event. Either way, it seems dubious. 

    On 9/3/12 JoHo makes another brief trip to Cairns, flying from Brisbane to Cairns and returning through Brisbane to Sydney on the same day (cost of $1735.70).  I could find no record of work activity in Cairns.  Perhaps this was a fundraising function. Perhaps legitimate duties? 

    There is one more trip by JoHo to FNQ in the available entitlement reports.  On 5/7/12, JoHo was in Melbourne where he claimed Travel Allowance ($354) for his overnight stay.  On 6/7/12 he flew from Melbourne to Cairns with a return flight from Cairns to Brisbane on 12/7/12 (flights were $2110.72 at taxpayer expense).  On arrival in Cairns JoHo claimed no Travel Allowance. His entitlement report shows no taxpayer-funded use of comcar, taxi or hire car in Cairns.  He does appear in a milking competition at the Malanda show on 7/7/12 (7)  (He says he also went to an IGA and talked about the carbon tax).  Apart from this JoHo isn’t sighted until he does a doorstop with Warren Entsch in Cairns on 12/7 the day of his return flight (transcript on his website).  The prior transcript was from 3/7 well before this travel, suggesting little public engagement.  There is one other source of information about his whereabouts during this week.  JoHo did a radio interview with ABC Melbourne (the fight club) on 11/7 and during the introduction the host Raphael Epstein noted that JoHo was “on the Atherton Tablelands”. (8)  So it seems likely JoHo flew to Cairns at taxpayer expense, stayed at his Malanda property for the week and had no “official” duties apart from milking a cow and a doorstop interview on his way home.  On 12/7/12 after flying to Brisbane, JoHo claimed Travel Allowance of $371 for an overnight stay. This is a very very dubious travel claim.

    Of course it could be that JoHo visited Cairns 9 times (at taxpayer expense) over a three year period because he wants to meet with the public wherever they live.  If so we would expect JoHo to also travel extensively to similarly sized cities and towns around Australia.  The population of the greater Cairns region is around 140,000.  In comparison, the population of Hobart is around 216,000 but JoHo only visited Tasmania at taxpayer expense 4 times over the three years.  The population of Adelaide is 1,277,000 (almost 9 times the population of Cairns) and yet JoHo visited Adelaide 10 times (only 1 more than the much smaller and more distant Cairns).  And most importantly, the population of Townsville is 172,000 (larger than Cairns) and yet over the three years in question JoHo only travelled at the taxpayers expense to Townsville twice and on both occasions it was a stop-over on his way to Cairns.  It certainly seems he had a particular interest in travel to Cairns.


    So what have we learned?  We know:
    -    JoHo has property in the Atherton Tablelands on which he operates a farmstay
    -    his parliamentary travel itinery has an unusually large number of journeys to Cairns, particularly when compared to his travel to other similar sized cities around Australia
    -    there are (at least) 6 occasions between 2010 and 2012 where he claimed taxpayer funds in respect of travel to the Cairns region but where there is little evidence in media reports and transcripts of work-related activities
    -    a number of these trips involved travel with family members at taxpayer expense
    -    on at least two occasions he claimed expenses for a hire vehicle rather than using comcar or taxis when in FNQ
    -    while his flight costs are charged to the taxpayer, JoHo doesn't often seem to claim Travel Allowance or comcar/taxi expenses while in FNQ despite the fact he claims such entitlements for other overnight stays.  When he does claim Travel Allowance in Cairns there is generally evidence of work-related activity.  This suggests there may be a signifiant personal component to much of his travel to FNQ
    -    (from an ABC transcript) on one occasion when he travelled at taxpayer expense to FNQ he was on leave
    -    (from another ABC transcript) on one occasion when he travelled to Cairns he was definitely staying on the Atherton Tablelands.


    Now this may all be completely legitimate travel, entirely appropriate and consistent with the regulations.  However, given this is the man who announced that “the age of entitlement is over” I think the personal component of this travel requires further investigation. As with TAbbott's sporting and volunteering claims, it is the consistency of the pattern of behaviour over an extended period of time which suggests a deliberate strategy rather than coincidence or error.

    At that speech at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London JoHo said “The problem arises however when there is a belief that one person has a right to a good or service that someone else will pay for”.  He also said that “governments must accept their responsibilities to fiscal discipline and the prudent use of their citizens hard earned monies” and “eventually the piper has to be paid”.

    Couldn't have put it better myself.  Perhaps the sound you hear is the piper calling you to join him.

    (1)    http://www.news.com.au/national-news/federal-election/joe-hockey-declares-wife8217s-company-directorship-14-years-after-the-appointment/story-fnho52ip-1226705278752#ixzz2dJJamZCe
    (2)    http://www.tourismportdouglas.com.au/Malanda-farm-lands-Joe-Hockey-in-hot-wat.4405.0.html
    (3)    http://www.abc.net.au/site-archive/rural/content/2010/s2970990.htm
    (4)    http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2010/s3034745.htm
    (5)    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqXB9NwMCMc
    (6)    http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/national/liberal-party-prepare-war-chest-for-snap-poll/story-e6frg15u-1226162594092
    (7)    http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2012/07/09/506405_latest-news.html
    (8)    http://ministers.treasury.gov.au/DisplayDocs.aspx?doc=transcripts/2012/069.htm&pageID=004&min=djba&Year=&DocType
    (9)    http://www.iea.org.uk/sites/default/files/in-the-media/files/The%20Age%20of%20Entitlement%20Joe%20Hockey%2017%20April%202012%20.pdf





    As a shadow minister, JoHo was entitled to somewhat enhanced conditions relating to Travel Allowance and car transport, but was subject to the same conditions as other members and senators for flights.  That is, scheduled commercial transport is permitted when on parliamentary business, electorate business or official business, but excluding party business other than meetings of a Parliamentary political party, or of its executive, or of its committees, and the national conference of a political party.
    ‘Official business’, for the purpose of the domestic travel entitlement means attendance at properly constituted meetings of a Government advisory committee or task force provided that the Senator or Member is a member of the committee or task force; and functions representing a Minister or a Presiding Officer on official business as a Minister or Presiding Officer, provided that the Minister or Presiding Officer nominates the function in advance in a written request to the Senator or Member to represent him or her. 
    It is difficult to see how the travel described above fits within these guidelines. 
    http://www.maps.finance.gov.au/entitlements_handbooks/index.html

    Sunday, 20 October 2013

    Running, swimming, cycling & volunteering: What Abbott said then v what Abbott says now

    The Pollie Pedal: Then it was about doing something a little bit selfless. Now it’s very serious community engagement

    TAbbott’s volunteering: Then it was about being a teacher's aide, a truancy assistant & a builder's labourer. Now it’s to meet with the public

    TAbbott’s volunteering: Then it was about spending serious time & actually being useful. Now it’s a community event

    TAbbott’s volunteering: Then it was about mucking in with Eddie, Laurie & Doreen. Now it’s official business

    TAbbott at the race track: Then he reported he enjoyed the corporate hospitality of the marquees. Now it’s about the public consultation

    TAbbott’s ironman participation: Then he said “I'm just being myself" Now it’s community engagement

    TAbbott ironman participation: Then he said "I don't think it's something I should stop doing just because I've got a different job" Now it’s official business

    TAbbott’s sporting participation: Then he said it was “mental therapy” and “a tremendous stress relief”. Now it’s a marginal seat strategy

    Wednesday, 28 August 2013

    Abbott’s age of entitlement: Tony's Top Twenty-five

    In 2009 Tony Abbott falsely claimed flight and comcar costs while promoting his book and had to repay $9397.42.  Here are 25 other examples of Abbott's work-related claims:

    1.    In August 2009 Tony Abbott claimed $1720 in travel allowance + $1,883 for flights while “volunteering” as a truancy assistant in Aurukun

    2.    In April 2010 Tony Abbott claimed $1539 travel allowance for all nights of his Pollie Pedal charity bike ride from Melbourne to Sydney + $480 flight to Melbourne

    3.    In November 2010 Tony Abbott and family claimed $420 travel allowance, $1956 for flights + $354 in comcar costs to attend the Melbourne Cup

    4.    In December 2010 Tony Abbott and family claimed $1910 for flights + $171 in comcar costs to attend day 1 of Boxing day Ashes test in Melbourne
    0
    5.    In April 2011 Tony Abbott claimed $2875 travel allowance for all nights of his Pollie Pedal charity bike ride from Gold Coast to Sydney + $556 flight to Brisbane

    6.    In May 2011 Tony Abbott and family claimed $420 travel allowance, $1646 in flights + $599 in comcar costs to attend the AFL Dreamtime game in Melbourne

    7.    In September 2011 Tony Abbott (+ passenger) claimed $744 travel allowance + $12133 for chartered flights from Sydney to St George and back to Brisbane to attend the Birdsville races

    8.    In October 2011 Tony Abbott and family claimed $424 travel allowance, over $823 for flights + $550 in comcar costs to attend the AFL grand final in Melbourne

    9.    In October 2011 Tony Abbott claimed $5623 for a chartered flight from Sydney to Bathurst return to attended the Bathurst 1000 V8 supercars

    10.    In October 2011 Tony Abbott and family claimed $848 travel allowance, $3722 for flights + $763 in comcar costs to attend the Victoria Derby  in Melbourne

    11.    In October 2011 Tony Abbott claimed $351 travel allowance while “volunteering” as builder’s labourer in Hopevale

    12.    In November 2011 Tony Abbott claimed $349 travel allowance + $941 for flights to compete in 70.3 Port Macquarie ironman event

    13.    In January 2012 Tony Abbott claimed $424 travel allowance, $771 for flights + $515 in comcar costs to attend the men’s final of the Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne

    14.    In January 2012 Tony Abbott (and passenger) spent $9347 to charter a flight to Tamworth to attend the Tamworth Country Music festival. 

    15.    In January 2012 Tony Abbott claimed $349 travel allowance + $1095 flights to Melbourne to compete in Pier to Pub swim in Lorne

    16.    In January 2012 Tony Abbott claimed $736 travel allowance, $1438 flights + $684 in comcar costs to participate in the Tour Down Under Charity ride in Adelaide

    17.    In March 2012 Tony Abbott claimed $3141 travel allowance for all nights of his Pollie Pedal charity bike ride from Geelong to Canberra + $482 flight from Canberra to Melbourne

    18.    In April 2012 Tony Abbott claimed $349 travel allowance + $2023 flights to compete in Hervey Bay Surf Lifesaving Pier to Pub swim

    19.    In May 2012 Tony Abbott claimed $424 travel allowance, $909 in flights + $328 in comcar costs to attend AFL Dreamtime game in Melbourne

    20.    In August 2012 Tony Abbott claimed $234 travel allowance while “volunteering” at Aurukun Mission and claimed $9636 for charter travel to/from Aurukun

    21.    In August 2012 Tony Abbott claimed $349 travel allowance + $650 flights to compete in Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge

    22.    In Sept 2012 Tony Abbott claimed $354 travel allowance + $160 flights to compete in Wagga ‘Lake to Lagoon’ fun run

    23.    In Sept 2012 Tony Abbott and family claimed $429 travel allowance, $1480 in flights + $540 in comcar costs to attend the AFL grand final

    24.    In November 2012 Tony Abbott and family claimed $848 travel allowance, $1053 for flights + $594 in comcar costs to attend the Victorian Derby in Melbourne

    25.    In December 2012 Tony Abbott claimed $1108 travel allowance for three nights while driving a big rig down the Pacific Hway


    That’s over $84,000 in work-related travel entitlements Abbott claimed while “volunteering”, running, swimming, cycling and attending major sporting events.



    All in a day’s work? 
    Travel allowance is payed to Opposition Office Holders for the cost of accommodation, meals, and incidentals during overnight stays away from home when the stay is primarily due to official business such as sittings of Parliament, parliamentary committee meetings, official business as Opposition Office Holder, or parliamentary political party meetings.

    The pattern and consistency of these travel claims provides the most compelling case against Abbott.  Abbott’s work related travel is regularly associated with attending major spectator events or participating in sports events.  More than just a coincidence?  It seems likely the primary purpose for his travel is to attend these volunteer, charity, sporting or major spectator events.  And if his travel is not primarily for official business it is not a legitimate work related expense. 

    International comparison
    This list of Abbott's dubious travel expense claims is astounding.  Truly of international standard.  So for an international comparison consider the Parliamentary Expenses scandal in the UK which arose when MPs and members of House of Lords were found to have systematically rorted their claims for travel and accommodation expenses.  Many MPs were found to have made claims for expenses which were not "wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred for the performance of a Member’s parliamentary duties".  Several MPs were charged and convicted, and many more stood down or resigned.  For example:

    •    Elliot Morley was sentenced to 10 months jail for dishonestly claiming over ₤30,000 (around $50000) in parliamentary expenses
    •    John Taylor, Baron of Warwick was sentenced to 12 months jail for falsely claiming ₤11277 (around $20000) parliamentary expenses for travel costs
    •    Jim Devine was sentenced to 16 months jail for dishonestly claiming ₤8385 (around $15200) in expenses
    •    Baron Hanningfield was sentenced to 9 months jail for incorrectly claiming ₤14000 (around $25000) in travel allowances.

    Consider Abbott’s $84000+ of claims in this context. 

    Abbott expenses v Slipper expenses?
    And in Australia Peter Slipper faces court over alleged inappropriate claims of taxi expenses of less than $1000.

    This list shows Tony Abbott has claimed over $84,000 in dubious travel expenses for his travel while volunteering, running, riding swimming and attending major sports events.   But not a word is spoken.



    But wait there’s more ...
    In all these examples the expense claims are documented in Abbott’s own Parliamentary Entitlement Reports and evidence of his participation in non-work activities is in media reports and transcripts on Abbott’s own website.

    There are many other dubious entitlement claims not listed above.  For example Tony Abbott and family travelled to Melbourne on the day of the F1 grand prix in 2011 and claimed over $2800 in work-related travel entitlements.  Was it a coincidence he was working in Melbourne that particular day or did he travel to attend the race?  On another occasion in 2011 Abbott travelled to Melbourne, participated in the Puffing Billy charity race, and received over $3000 in travel entitlements for two days.  Did he just happened to be in Melbourne on work-related purposes at the time of another sports event?

    Then there are the costs of his stunts over the past three years.  Visiting a Gold Coast rubbish tip, chartered flights to outback stations to discuss live cattle exports, visiting an ice works, chartered flights to North Queensland to discuss his wild rivers private members bill, his infamous trip to Wyalla. Perhaps this is appropriate travel for an opposition leader though it seems little more than a taxpayer funded backdrop for his daily media appearances. 

    Monday, 5 August 2013

    7 A day at the races

    Today Tony “Travel Allowance” Abbott said “I want to say to the Australian people, I have more respect for your money” (1)

    How much respect? Just enought to claim over $24000 in work expenses to attend 4 horse races!

    TAboott seems to enjoy spending a day at the races. It is reported that as a youngster he frequented the races with his father, but that a busy career, young family and his mothers caution kept him away from the racetrack for a number of years. (2)

    Recently he has made a return to the track. But surprisingly TAbbott claims his visits to the race track are for work purposes. So unlike most punters TAbbott now always backs a winner as he receives allowances in respect of his travel, accommodation and other expenses.

    On 2 November 2010, TAbbott attended the Melbourne Cup.
    According to the register of members’ interests TAbbott received hospitality from the Victoria Racing Club in the committee room and was accompanied by his wife, daughter and her guest. 
    His 2010 report on parliamentary entitlements shows that TAbbott claimed work expenses on the 2 and 3 November 2010:
    $420 in Travel Allowance for staying overnight in Melbourne on 2/11
    $464.05 for flights from Sydney to Melbourne on 2/11
    He flew from Melbourne to Adelaide on 3/11. I will not cost any return flight
    354.47 for comcar costs in Melbourne on 2/11 and 3/11
    $928.10 for family member flights from Sydney to Melbourne and return on 2/11 and
    $564.72 for family member flights from Sydney to Melbourne and return on 2/11.

    So that’s $2731.34 TAbbott received from the Australian taxpayers to attend the Melbourne cup.

    Unfortunately Parliament was sitting in Canberra on Melbourne cup day in 2011. But TAbbott did still manage a visit to the AAMI Victoria Derby on 29 October 2011.
    According to the register of members’ interests TAbbott was a guest of the Victoria Racing Club, was hosted by Chairman Michael Burn, and dropped into marquees later in the afternoon. He was accompanied by his wife and daughters.
    His 2011 report on parliamentary entitlements shows that TAbbott claimed work expenses during this period:
    $848 in Travel Allowance for staying overnight in Melbourne on 29/10 and 30/10
    $1011.78 for flights from Sydney to Melbourne on 29/10 and Melbourne to Canberra on 30/10
    $763.60 for comcar costs in Melbourne on 29/10 and 30/10
    $903.59 for a family member flights from Sydney to Melbourne and return on 29/10 and
    $1807.18 for two other family member flights from Sydney to Melbourne on 29/10 and return on 31/10.

    So that’s $5334.15 TAbbott received from the Australian taxpayers to attend the Victoria Derby.

    TAbbott was back at the AAMI Victoria Derby on 3 November 2012.
    According to the register of members’ interests TAbbott was again the guest of the Victoria Racing Club, took advantage of the marquees, and was accompanied by his wife and daughters.
    His 2012 report on parliamentary entitlements shows that TAbbott claimed this trip as a work expense and claimed allowances:
    $848 in Travel Allowance for staying overnight in Melbourne on 2/11 and 3/11
    $546.02 for flights from Sydney to Melbourne on 2/11 and return on 4/11
    $364.55 for comcar costs in Melbourne on 2/11 3/11 and 4/11
    $507.82 for a family member flights from Sydney to Melbourne on 3/11 and return on 4/11 and
    $230.44 for family member comcar in Melbourne on 3/11.

    So that’s $2496.83 TAbbott received from the Australian taxpayers to attend the Victoria Derby in 2012.

    TAbbott attended other races. He was a guest of the Australian Turf Club at the Golden Slipper in April 2012. He also attended the Pinjarra Park races in Perth in April 2010 and watched the Tony Abbott Real Action Cup.

    But a highlight was likely his trip to the Birdsville races in 2011. He reports on his website that he attended at the invitation of Bruce Scott so that he could participate in the Birdsville races. To get to the Birdsville races TAbbott chartered flights from Sydney to St George on the 1 September 2011 and from St George to Brisbane on 2 September.
    The cost to the Australian taxpayer of this charter flight was $12133.00.
    $349 in Travel Allowance for staying overnight in St George on 1/9
    $395 in Travel Allowance for staying overnight in Brisbane on 2/9
    There were also comcar costs in Sydney and Brisbane on the 1/9 and 2/9 of $634.99

    So that’s $13511.99 TAbbott received from the Australian taxpayers to attend the Birdsville races.

    All up that’s $24074.31 in work-related travel expenses that TAbbott has received to attend four race meetings.  Again the question is whether these are genuine work expenses?

     Perhaps attending the races with your family is part of the duties of an Opposition Leader? Just like participating in fun runs or attending the boxing day test in Melbourne.

    Or were there other duties he performed that just happened to coincide with the races? But I think the more important question is whether these are appropriate expense claims for a person who lectures others about character, honesty and inappropriate use of expenses?



    (1) http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/04/election-campaign-cars-carbon-tax
    (2)  http://www.donrandallmp.com/Newsroom/MediaReleases/tabid/89/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/1439/Abbott-trackside-for-real-action-in-Pinjarra.aspx

    Wednesday, 31 July 2013

    6 Attending major sporting events

    Not only does Tony “Travel Allowance” Abbott claim travel, accommodation and other expenses for his “volunteer” fund raising on the pollie pedal AND claim travel, accommodation and other expenses while participating in fun runs, ocean swims and bike rides AND claim travel, accommodation and other expenses while “volunteering” in remote indigenous communities, TA also claims travel, accommodation and other expenses to watch major sporting events. Here are four examples where he claims over $12300 in expenses to attend cricket, AFL, tennis and V8 supercars. 

    According to the register of members’ interests, TAbbott received hospitality from the MCC and Cricket Australia to attend the 4th Ashes test in Melbourne on Boxing Day 2010, and was accompanied by Margie.
    Always on the job, the 2011 report on parliamentary entitlements shows that TAbbott claimed work expenses on the 26 December 2010:
       $955.38 for flights from Sydney to Melbourne and return
       $171 for comcar costs in Melbourne and
       $955.38 for family flights from Sydney to Melbourne and return.
    So that’s $2081.76 in work-related expenses for TA to attend the cricket.

    According to the register of members’ interests, TAbbott was the guest of Theiss at the men’s final of the Australian Open on 29 Jan 2012.
    The 2012 report on parliamentary entitlements shows that TAbbott also claimed work expenses on 29 Jan 2012:
       $424 in Travel Allowance for staying overnight in Melbourne on 29/1
       $771.11 for flights from Sydney to Melbourne on 29/1 and return to Canberra on 30/1
       $515.87 for comcar costs in Melbourne on 29/1 and 30/1
    So that’s $1710.98 in work-related expenses for TA to attend the tennis

    According to the register of member’s interests, TAbbott was the guest of the AFL at the grand final on 1 October 2011.
    But TA obviously went to Melbourne primarily for work-related purposes as the 2011 report on parliamentary entitlements shows that TAbbott claimed his travel as a work expense:
       $424 in Travel Allowance for staying overnight in Melbourne on 30/9
       No separate cost provided for flights from Brisbane to Melbourne on 30/9 and Melb to Syd on 1/10 but estimate as $823.80
       $461.51 for comcar costs in Melbourne on 1/10
       $823.80 for family flights from Syd-Melb -Syd on 1/10
       $88.86 for family comcar costs in Melb on 1/10
    So that’s $2621.97 in work-related expenses for TA to attend the AFL grand final

    TAbbott attended the Bathurst 1000 V8 supercars on 9 October 2011 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyabbott/6228034413/)
    But according to the 2011 report on parliamentary entitlements TAbbott claimed work expenses on 9 October:
       No Travel Allowance as he didn’t stay overnight
       No commercial flight costs
       $262.43 for two comcar trips in Sydney on 9 October
       $5623.73 for a chartered flight from Sydney to Bathurst and return on 9 October
    So that’s $5886.16 in expenses for TA to attend the Bathurst 1000 *

    All up that’s $12300.87 in work-related travel expenses for just four major sporting events.

    Are these genuine work expenses for an opposition leader? Perhaps more importantly, are these appropriate expense claims for an opposition leader who lectures others about character, honesty and managing expenses?



    (information from same sources and http://www.aph.gov.au/parliamentary_business/committees/house_of_representatives_committees?url=pmi/declarations.htm)

    *  Poor Tony.  As a point of comparison Joe Hockey declared in his register of interests that he was the guest of Aviation Transport at the Bathurst V8 supercars in 2010 and they covered the cost of his attendence and charter travel.  Hockey seems to have made no claim of public expenses.  It's a shame that Tony had to rely on the Australian taxpayers to fund his V8 experience. 

    Wednesday, 10 July 2013

    3 The Pollie Pedal

    For several years TA has organised the Pollie Pedal ride because politicians have wanted to do “something that was a little bit selfless, something a little bit humble, and out of the ordinary”. (1) In his budget reply speech earlier this year TA said that he “would not have ridden 1000 kilometres, the week before last, to raise money for Carers Australia if I was half-hearted about the NDIS”. (2)

    In 2008, TA’s website noted that he started the Pollie Pedal in 1998 to raise money for various charities. In 2010 Tony Abbott rode from Melbourne to Sydney, in 2011 he rode from the Gold Coast to Sydney, and in 2012 he organised and rode on the Pollie Pedal bike ride from Geelong to Canberra.

    So, based on media reports and his own statements about the purpose of the Pollie Pedal it seems safe to conclude that undertaking a selfless task like raising money for charity through the Pollie Pedal is not official business. Compare the reported route of the Pollie Pedal each year with TA’s Parliamentary Entitlement Claims.

    The Pollie Pedal in 2010:
    Wednesday 7th April Melbourne – Yea 96km
    Thursday 8th April Yea – Benalla 124km
    Friday 9th April Benalla – Hume Weir 130km
    Saturday 10th April Hume Weir – Khancoban 140km
    Sunday 11th April Khancoban – Berridale 140km
    Monday 12th April Berridale – Canberra 140km
    Tuesday 13th April Canberra – Goulburn 95km
    Wednesday 14th April Goulburn – Camden 145km
    Thursday 15th April Camden – Sydney 67km
    From: http://tonyabbott.com.au/PolliePedal/PolliePedal2010.aspx

    What TA claimed in 2010:
    06 Apr 10 Melbourne $415.00
    07 Apr 10 Yea $114.00
    08 Apr 10 Benalla $114.00
    09 Apr 10 Albury $114.00
    10 Apr 10 Khancoban $114.00
    11 Apr 10 Berriedale $114.00
    13 Apr 10 Goulburn $114.00
    14 Apr 10 Camden $340.00
    Sat 2 April 110 Gold Coast – Kyogle
    Sun 3 April 126 Kyogle – Grafton
    Mon 4 April 147 Grafton – Dorrigo
    Tues 5 April 120 Dorrigo – Armidale
    Wed 6 April 64 Armidale – Walcha
    Thurs 7 April 143 Walcha – Gloucester
    Fri 8 April 148 Gloucester – Cessnock
    Sat 9 April 117 Cessnock – Ettalong Beach
    Sun 10 April 40 Ettalong Beach – Sydney
    1 April Travel Allowance Gold Coast $345
    2 April Travel Allowance Kyogle $345
    3 April Travel Allowance Grafton $115
    4 April Travel Allowance Dorrigo $345
    5 April Travel Allowance Armidale $345
    6 April Travel Allowance Walcha $345
    7 April Travel Allowance Gloucster $345
    8 April Travel Allowance Cessnock $345
    9 April Travel Allowance Ettalong Beach
    “The Opposition Leader’s annual “pollie pedal” kicks off on March 25 in Geelong …” “The ride will go through Carrum Downs, Warragul, Sale, Lakes Entrance and Orbost before crossing the NSW border to Bombala and Cooma, finishing at Parliament House in Canberra on April 1.”
    22 and 24 March Travel Allowance Geelong $698
    25 March Travel Allowance Carrum Downs $349
    26 March Travel Allowance Warragul $349
    27 March Travel Allowance Sale $349
    28 March Travel Allowance Lakes Entrance $349
    29 March Travel Allowance Orbost $349
    30 March Travel Allowance Bombala $349
    31 March Travel Allowance Cooma $349
    From: http://www.finance.gov.au/publications/parliamentarians-reporting/docs/T30/ABBOTT_Tony.pdf

    Summary: Abbott’s Parliamentary Entitlement Reports shows his travel allowance claims precisely match the route of the Pollie Pedal each year. He claimed Travel Allowance for each and every night on his Pollie Pedal in 2010, 2011 and 2012. All up, that’s over $7000 TA had received in Travel Allowance for his charity work on the Pollie Pedal over these three years. Each night stay must have been claimed as being primarily for “official duties”.

    In addition, there are other associated expenses such as flights and Comcar costs around these dates that may have been for the Pollie Pedal and paid by the Commonwealth. These aren't listed but all are included in the Parliamentary Entitlement Reports.

    Is participation in the Pollie Pedal really official business?


    But not all pollies are equal:
    TA doesn’t ride alone. From 2010:

    Coalition frontbencher and fellow cycling enthusiast Kevin Andrews is also taking part in the 1,000-kilometre Pollie Pedal event and says he will be pushed by his leader. “Tony is very fit. He’s always very enthusiastic and he’s always hard to beat up a hill,” he said.’ (3)

    Unlike TA, Kevin Andrews’ Parliamentary Entitlement Report for 2010 shows that he did not claim Travel Allowance for the 2010 Pollie Pedal. Perhaps this is an example of a “selfless” act. There are other politicians who participated in Pollie Pedal over the years who did not claim travel entitlements.

    (1) http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/national/pollie-pedal-gives-mps-a-lift-abbott/story-e6frfku9-1226622658633
    (2) http://www.tonyabbott.com.au/News/tabid/94/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/9191/Address-In-Reply-Parliament-House-Canberra.aspx
    (3) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-04-07/abbott-sets-off-on-pollie-pedal/2602278

    1 Abbott's travel entitlements and the test of character

    We assess a person’s character through their actions. Julia Gillard had “questions to answer” about her past actions because it was said to reflect on her character. The expense claims of Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson apparently showed they had failed the "character test". 

    Tony Abbott (TA) is likely to be the next PM. But Margo Kingston’s recent investigation clearly shows that TA himself has inappropriately claimed travel entitlements in the past and has had to repay money. (1)

    But anyone can make a mistake. Can't they. 

    There have also been reports in social media about other questionable travel expenses.  All this information is in the public domain and is presented here with links to sources and cross-referenced to provide the 'context'.  Perhaps all these travel claims are legitimate and entirely within the rules. Or it may be that it is TA who has some "questions to answer" and maybe this is a test of his character.

    2 Appropriate use of entitlements
    3 The Pollie Pedal
    4 Participating in sporting events
    5 Voluntary work in indigenous communities


    (1) http://nofibs.com.au/2013/07/06/exclusive-abbott-forced-to-repay-taxpayers-9400-he-charged-taxpayers-to-promote-his-book/

    5 Voluntary work in remote indigenous communities


    TA is widely admired for his commitment and work in remote indigenous communities. According to media reports
     “For several years the federal Liberal leader has allocated at least a week of his time each year to volunteer work in indigenous communities and says he will continue this if elected prime minister.” (1)

    TA himself has said
    I have tried to support Noel Pearson’s work with deeds as well as with words: as a teacher’s aide in Coen in 2008, as a truancy assistant in Aurukun in 2009, as a builder’s labourer in Hopevale in 2011 and last year, along with Warren Mundine and my Shadow Minister Senator Nigel Scullion and a team of Australia’s leading business people, I participated in the ‘Books and Mortar’ project to refurbish the school library there. … should the Coalition win government, I reiterate my undertaking to spend a week every year helping in an indigenous community. It will be good for me. It is important that our national leaders remain grounded in the real life of our country.” (2)

    According to his Parliamentary Entitlements Report for 2009, during the period between 17th to 24th August TA claimed travel allowance for 8 days at $215 per day (a total of $1720) for the time he spent in Aurukun and reported his time there as “official business”.

    In 2011 when TA went to Hopevale as a builder’s labourer his Parliamentary Entitlements Report shows that he claimed $349 for staying in Cairns on the 15th of October and $351 (3 nights at $117 per night) from the 16th to 18th of October while based at Cooktown. TA notes that he wasn’t the only one who “mucked in” at Hopevale and his parliamentary colleague Alan Tudge helped “mill some timber”.(3) This is interesting because Tudge didn’t claim travel allowance for his time and contribution at Hopevale. (4)

    The 2012 Parliamentary Entitlements Report shows that while TA was leading a delegation of business people on a “working bee” he also received travel allowance ($349 for one night in Cairns, $234 for two nights in Aurukun, and another night in Cairns at $349) and reported his time at Aurukun as “official business”.  He also claimed $9.636.36 for charter travel from Cairns to Aurukun Mission and return on the 10th and 12th of August.

    Summary:  TA seems genuinely concerned about the state of remote indigenous communities and should be commended for anything he does to help out and draw attention to the circumstances of indigenous Australians.  But is he volunteering as the media suggest or on official duties?  The line seems very blurred. 

    (1) http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/breaking-news/abbott-heads-to-aurukun-working-bee/story-e6frea7l-1226443933467
    (2) http://www.naccho.org.au/download/aboriginal-health/Leader%20of%20the%20Oposition%20Tony%20Abbott.pdf
    (3)  http://www.liberal.org.au/latest-news/2011/10/18/tony-abbott-interview-paula-tapiolas-0
    (4) http://www.finance.gov.au/publications/parliamentarians-reporting/docs/T29/TUDGE_Alan.pdf

    4 Participating in sporting activities

    We are all familiar with images of TA participating in ironman events, triathlons and road cycle rides. Could these events be considered official duties?

    Port Macquarie Ironman 70.3 event
    On 6 November 2011 TA participated in the 70.3 Ironman Age Group Championships in Port Macquarie.
    More than 800 amateur triathletes, including Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, will be in Port Macquarie next week for the 70.3 Ironman Age Group Championships.” (1) (2) (3)

    TA’s 2011 Parliamentary Entitlement Report shows that on 5 November he claimed $349 in travel allowance while staying at Port Macquarie on official business, and that he claimed $941.10 for flights from Brisbane to Sydney to Port Macquarie on 5 November and Port Macquarie to Sydney on 6 November.

    Lorne Pier to Pub swim
    On 7 January 2012 TA participated in the Pier to Pub swim in Lorne, VIC. TA tweeted: “Relieved to have finished my first Pier to Pub swim in Lorne. Congratulations to Ted Baillieu who beat me by 10 minutes!” (4) (5)

    TA’s 2012 Parliamentary Entitlement Report shows that on 6 January he claimed $349 in travel allowance while staying at Lorne, and that he claimed $1,095.24 for flights from Sydney to Melbourne and return on the 6th and 7th of January.

    Hervey Bay Surf Lifesaving Pier to Pub swim
    On 21 April TA participated in the Hervey Bay Surf Lifesaving Pier to Pub swim.
    PERFECT sunny weather greeted Tony Abbott and his fellow competitors, who plunged into the water on Saturday morning for the 14th annual Hervey Bay Surf Lifesaving Club Pier to Pub ocean swim.” (6) (7)

    TA’s 2012 Parliamentary Entitlement Report shows that on 20 April he claimed $349 in travel allowance while staying at Hervey Bay, and that he claimed $2,023.81 for flights from Brisbane to Hervey Bay on 20 April and from Hervey Bay to Brisbane and onwards on 21st.

    Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge
    On August 5 2012 TA participated in the Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge. “Almost 80 protestors joined together at Bellingen's Lavender Bridge to try and catch the eye of Federal opposition leader Tony Abbott as he rode past as part of the NAB Cycle Challenge.” (8) (9)

    TA’s 2012 Parliamentary Entitlement Report shows that on 4 August he claimed $349 in travel allowance while staying at Coffs Harbour, and that he claimed $683.24 for flights from Sydney to Coffs Harbour and return on the 4th and 5th of August.

    Wagga Wagga Lake to Lagoon fun run
    On 8 September 2012 TA participated in the Wagga ‘Lake to Lagoon’ fun run. One other participant blogged (not referenced to protect anonymity) “Before too long it's time for the dorky warm-up stuff and I find myself right behind the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott. Can't say I respect his politics, but I respect a man who can run. Right up until the gun goes off and he sets off at a snail's pace, forcing me to dodge and weave like a maniac in order to get in front. What a loser!” (10) (11)

    TA’s 2012 Parliamentary Entitlement Report shows that on 8 September he claimed $354 in travel allowance while staying at Wagga Wagga and $160 for flight from Sydney to Wagga Wagga on 8 September.

    Summary: These are 5 examples where TA claimed travel allowance and travel costs in respect of overnight stays the night before participating in sporting events. Were these overnight stays primarily due to official duties?

    (1) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-10-27/abbott-to-contest-port-macquarie-ironman/3603232
    (2) http://ironstruck.com/ironman-port-macquarie-70-3-results-2011
    (3) http://www.multisportaustralia.com.au/RaceTecResults/
    (4) https://twitter.com/TonyAbbottMHR/status/155525085099343873
    (5) http://www.oceanswims.com/default2.asp?active_page_id=373
    (6) http://www.frasercoastchronicle.com.au/news/tony-dons-those-budgie-smugglers-in-bay-challenge/1353602/
    (7) http://www.sportingpulse.com/assoc_page.cgi
    (8) http://www.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/abbott-ride-greeted-csg-protest/1493636/
    (9) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-03/tony-abbott-coasts-in-to-coffs/4175628
    (10) http://www.workoutwagga.com.au/news/lake-lagoon-2012
    (11) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnd22dTa90U

    Tuesday, 9 July 2013

    2 Determining appropriate use of parliamentary travel entitlements

    There is a Department of Finance and Deregulation report (1) that sets out the circumstances under which travel allowance is payed to Opposition Office Holders.


    Travel Allowance for all Opposition Office Holders:
    An allowance set by the Remuneration Tribunal to cover the cost of accommodation, meals, and incidentals for each overnight stay in a place other than the Opposition Office Holder’s home base when that stay is primarily due to:
    (a) sittings of Parliament, or direct travel to or from such sittings;
    (b) official business as an Opposition Office Holder;
    (c) meetings or formal business of a parliamentary committee of which the Opposition Office Holder is a member, or direct travel to or from such meetings;
    (d) meetings in Canberra of an Opposition Office Holder’s parliamentary political party, its executive or its committees, or direct travel to or from such meetings;
    (e) meetings outside Canberra of an Opposition Office Holder’s parliamentary political party executive, or direct travel to or from such meetings; or
    (f) meetings outside Canberra of an Opposition Office Holder’s parliamentary political party, its executive, its committees, its national conference, or its state conference, and meetings outside the Opposition Office Holder’s electorate on electorate business (limited to a maximum of 10 nights per year in total), or direct travel to or from such meetings.



    It seems the key test of eligibility for travel entitlements is whether the primary purpose of any overnight stay is for official business.

    All travel entitlements presented here are from the publicly available Parliamentary Entitlements Reports. (2)   Information about the expenditure for all parliamentarians (past and present) is listed from the second half of 2009 to 2012. There are often reports in the media based on this information. (3)