A fashion fundraiser paid for out of the public purse failed to even cover its own costs through revenue and donations, leaving Aussie taxpayers to pick up the outstanding bill for almost $140,000.
The inaugural Museum for Arts and Applied Sciences (MAAS) Ball took place in February and was billed as Sydney’s answer to the world-renowned Met Gala, with the aim of raising enough cash to preserve key pieces of Australia’s fashion history to add to the museum’s collection.
However, information obtained by the ABC shows that the event, which was attended by some of the biggest stars of the Aussie fashion world, along with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, was actually a huge flop that cost the taxpayer just under $140,000.
According to the figures, the lavish MAAS do cost a whopping $388,391 to put on, however revenue from sponsorship and ticket sales brought in just $173,181, leaving a shortfall of $215,210 which was paid for out of the museum’s own budget, which is publicly funded.
A handful of VIP guests also donated a total of $1,150 — three gifts of $50 each and one for $1,000 – which, combined with a portion of ticket sales, amounted to a total of $78,500 raised. However, the overall cost was almost three times that amount, leaving the public purse $137,000 worse off.
However, MAAS has defended the event and told the ABC “the ball was successful in achieving its objectives”.
The revelation is just the latest in a string of accusations against the government and politicians and their use of taxpayer funds. On Wednesday, embattled Labor MP Emma Husar was accused of using a taxpayer-funded Comcar limousine to get to appointments with her divorce lawyer. The cars are only intended to be used when pollies are travelling on official parliamentary business.
And in June, Australian Ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey was revealed to have used taxpayers’ dollars to fund several boozy events and even pay for babysitters for his children.
The Turnbull government introduced strict laws around how politicians could use their taxpayer-funded benefits in 2017, in the wake of Liberal MP Sussan Ley’s resignation as health minister. Ley stepped down after admitting to purchasing property and partying on New Year’s Eve while on taxpayer-funded trips to the Gold Coast.
The move prompted Turnbull to implement a drastic overhaul to the way politicians claimed expenses.
“Australians are entitled to expect that politicians spend taxpayers’ money carefully, ensuring at all times that their work expenditure represents an efficient, effective and ethical use of public resources,” he said at the time.