Mal Brough has stood up as the country’s shining light last night in the travel expenses saga that is rippling through the government and published his recent travel expenses on his website. And not only that, he has also pointed out to the country that his wife works as a volunteer in his Canberra office. At around the same time, Joe Hockey has been put under the blowtorch for taking his family to Perth in 2013, apparently on the anniversary of the day he made his speech about “The end of the age of entitlement”.
“Let me put it to you this way: The Age of Entitlement is over,’’ Mr Hockey said a year prior to the Institute of economic affairs in London on April 17 2012.
It leaves many of us ordinary people shaking our heads and wondering what will be uncovered next and in fact why families are able to fly business class at our taxpayer’s expense when we certainly cannot claim deductible trips for our own families when travelling for business. One community member even asked out loud whether we are paying FBT for the trips as well?
Mr Brough has shown us that not everyone is doing the wrong thing. He released the statement on his website cataloguing his travel this year, and provided links to detailed statements on each trip.
” In the interests of transparency I will be providing regular updates of my travel expenses.
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You will note, in an effort to minimise travel expenses, I travel economy where possible and my wife works managing my Canberra office as a volunteer, without any remuneration. This saves the cost of staff travel and travel allowance and allows them to continue to serve the electorate whilst the parliament is sitting.
Most of my travel is between the electorate and parliament with some additional travel undertaken in my role as Chair of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).”
It comes at a time when the media is looking for horror stories having uncovered on Sunday the details of Joe Hockey flying his family to Perth business class in 2013 at a total cost of $14,566.
The age of entitlement is not apparent to Mr Hockey who has been feeling the heat all weekend. Hockey’s family travel, whilst allowed under the guidelines is the largest individual expenses allegation in recent weeks, with Bronwyn Bishop resigning as speaker for her $5000 helicopter expense, Tony Burke’s family business class flight and travel to Uluru worth $12,000 and Christopher Pyne’s expense claim for taking his family to Sydney.
As we all know, the media are unforgiving of the politicians alleged misuse of public money on personal travel, and they are baying for blood with the constituents of the nation behind them. It it is reflecting on the Government’s popularity with Bill Shorten surging ahead in recent polls as the government has failed to manage to shut down the expanding travel expenses debate. A Reachtel poll conducted by Fairfax on the eve of the return to Parliament says Mr Shorten is preferred by 58.5 per cent of voters to Mr Abbott’s 41.5, despite the Labor leader’s recent Royal Commission appearance and the fireworks at ALP National Conference.
Mr Hockey was asked yesterday if the family travel allowance should be scrapped and replied that “You’ve got to be precious with every dollar of taxpayers money, I’ve always said that.”
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There has been allegations in recent days that Christopher Pyne flew his family to Sydney for a Christmas holiday in 2009, spending $5000 to fly his wife and two children to the city for Christmas-New Year. Department of Finance documents show each return flight from Adelaide cost $1200, and he claimed two nights’ travel allowance of $238 as well as $711 on Comcars.
His office is reported to have told The Australian on Saturday the then opposition education spokesman held a planning day with opposition leader Tony Abbott while in Sydney.
How do you feel about the unfolding travel expenses debate? Do you find these new allegations are affecting your political views.