As the government scrambles to claw back money from the old, the sick, the pregnant, and the unemployed, they put no such austerity on their own spending.
In the 2014 budget from hell, Tony Abbott promised to cut off free flights for about 100 former politicians. But while legislation was passed by the House of Representatives in October 2014, it has inexplicably failed to be even put to a vote in the Senate.
According to Mathias Corman they’ve been too busy but who could forget the tortuous filibustering by Bridget McKenzie and James McGrath in September because the Senate had nothing to do.
After Choppergate, Abbott called for a review of politicians’ entitlements which proposed certain reforms, one of which recommended six electorates larger than 500,000 square kilometres receive a third staffed electorate office. But Nationals MP Mark Coulton, whose seat of Parkes falls over 100,000 square km short of the guideline, wanted another office too so bugger the rules – full speed ahead.
According to the mid-year financial update, establishing the seven extra offices will cost taxpayers $8.1 million over the next four years. What do they actually do with four offices (including the one in Canberra)?
Whilst on the subject of offices, Malcolm Turnbull’s Digital Transformation Office is also costing us a fortune.
The DTO was launched by Mr Turnbull, then communications minister, in July 2015, to drive his vision of “agile and innovative” government by working with departments to enhance their use of digital technology. The project was re-launched in October with a new name, the Digital Transformation Agency.
Contracts publicly notified on the federal procurement website AusTender show that much of the DTA’s spending since it was established in July 2015 has been on contractors and temporary staff including $125,000 paid to recruitment outfit Hudson to provide a personal assistant for 12 months.
A DTA spokeswoman confirmed that $18.5 million in contracts had been agreed with labour hire firms. Other taxpayer-funded spending by the micro-agency includes $1 million for five months of “agile coaching” by a private sector outfit Pragmateam, $43,000 on whiteboards and hundreds of thousands of dollars on public relations.
What is “agile coaching” you ask?
The spokeswoman said the agile coaching spending was needed to make sure DTO projects were run in accordance with best practice.
“The contract with Pragmateam allows for up to five expert coaches to guide the DTA, and other government agencies, through the different stages of the Agile methodology,” she said.
“This ensures that projects are run in accordance with best practice and ensures knowledge transfer for future application.
“The Agile methodology underpins the DTA’s work internally and with other agencies.
“It involves fast and intense development, testing and adaptation drawing on a wide range of expertise.
“This contrasts with more ‘traditional’ approaches to software and service design which involve lengthy specification design and rigid implementation approaches.”
What an outstanding example of babble! That spokeswoman will go far.
The federal government spent a record amount on digital advertising in Australia last financial year. Figures published by the Department of Finance in December showed total government advertising spending for major campaigns cost taxpayers $174.7 million in 2015-16, up by nearly $70 million from the previous year.
The Australian Electoral Commission’s pre-election advertising campaign was the most expensive single spend in the report, costing a total of $50.9 million. Australian Defence Force recruitment advertising campaigns cost $31.4 million in 2015-16. Promoting the Turnbull government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda cost $14.9 million. A national campaign to reduce violence against women and children in Australia cost $13.4 million. More than $10 million was spent to promote the government’s North Asia free trade agreements. Promoting the now axed Green Army program cost $3 million in 2015-16.
Then there is our MPs’ penchant for RAAF jets to ferry them around.
RAAF jets chartered to pick up and drop off federal politicians flew without passengers on 107 occasions at a cost of $610,571 from July to December in 2015.
The “ghost flight’’ trips cost up to $18,000 just to fly to Perth without passengers. But wage costs for the RAAF crew push the total cost higher.
The latest figures include two passengerless flights made to pick up and drop off Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and her partner, David Panton, in October 2015.
An empty plane flew from Canberra to Perth on September 20 at a cost of $17,996, to bring back Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, Justice Minister Michael Keenan and Social Service Minister Porter to be sworn into Malcolm Turnbull’s first Cabinet.
In November, a jet again flew empty across the Nullarbor — costing $16,740 — to collect Senator Cormann and other MPs including Andrew Hastie, Senator Chris Back, Steve Irons and Senator Linda Reynolds for a sitting week when commercial flights were available.
On flights, MPs and staffers are offered wine, craft beers, gourmet hot meals and heated hand towels by crew.
These few examples are indicative of the cavalier fashion with which our common wealth is used and abused by those who see politics as a career and who have no qualms about using Treasury as their political warchest to be used to further their own careers and to provide them with a celebrity lifestyle – no skill or talent required.
If you are looking for double-dipping rorters who rip off the system and take no personal responsibility, look in the mirror.