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Heads they win, Tails you lose!

It’s not easy being a politician. Every day there are challenges that the average punter doesn’t have to face.

Just take the dilemma that Stuart Robert, Dan Tehan and Simon Birmingham had to face last year when deciding whether to go from Canberra to Sydney for a Liberal Party piss up. They had booked their flights and had their staffers book them into an upmarket Sydney hotel when some pesky intern in the minister’s office had the temerity to ask “but who’s going to pay?”

This was a Liberal Party fundraiser with seating, within winking distance of one of these luminaries, costing around $10,000 a head; that included a rubber chicken dinner, a glass of spumante and an elbow nudge with your favourite minister – it’s not clear if a bathroom encounter across a urinal was an optional extra.

The round trip including accommodation came in at $4,500 and it was this that the young intern was questioning: who’s going to pay for that?

Well, as The AIMN alumni will readily recall, we have been down this particular rabbit hole before and really it’s a rhetorical question as we know who’s going to pay, don’t we?

Remember, there was show me the chopper, Bronnie who travelled to a Liberal Party fundraiser by helicopter at the expense of the taxpayer. She was busted and had to go. She now delights us on a daily basis from Murdoch’s murky basement that we have come to know as Sky after Dark.

Not to mention former federal health minister Sussan Ley who found it necessary to make numerous trips to the Gold Coast on electoral business at the taxpayer’s expense. The more attentive among you will have noted that her electorate is the federal division of Farrer in NSW. So you may well ask why would she be attending the needs of her electorate from the Gold Coast whilst coincidentally viewing luxury investment properties … if that is the question you are raising, let it be known that Spud Dutton has your name and is likely to be popping a tracking device into your shopping bag at the first opportunity.

Anyhow, for Sussan, she had to stand down and went into a Liberal party re-education program which worked out very well as she has now been fully rehabilitated and is fronting as the minister for the environment: yes, the Gold Coast is part of the environment so it’s win-win!

So it was determined that we couldn’t go on stiffing the taxpayer for ministerial frolics so what is known as the dominant purpose test was introduced which basically means that the bean-counters in Treasury will identify, based on the information provided by the minister, what the dominant purpose of the trip was. If it was fair-dinkum ministerial or government business then you and I pay for it. If not, then the minister or the Liberal party pays – stop laughing this is serious!

There is also the which came first test which allows Treasury to determine if the ministerial business was just an afterthought and the real purpose of the trip was to get on the slops with your mates in Sydney. Timing thus becomes critical to this evaluation: which diversionary activity was first cab off the rank. This involves tossing a coin and making a couple of quick phone calls

Back to our three heroes. They decided that it was far more suitable and appropriate for you and I to pay for this trip rather than troubling their own pockets or those of the Liberal Party.

This morning Minister for Education, Dan Tehan told the ABC that he had a long-standing commitment to visit a school in Sydney – the name of which eluded him – and this was the dominant purpose of the trip and the Liberal party fundraiser was but a serendipitous coincidence that he happened to include in his busy program.

Stuart Robert, Minister for Government Services [remember his dodgy home internet usage – nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more !] believes he may have been chasing a pensioner in Bankstown for welfare overpayments that robodebt had missed and the fundraiser was just a happy marriage of interests in his very busy schedule.

Simon Birmingham, Minister for trade is still checking his diary and will get back to us but I can guarantee you that he was probably keeping a long-term prior commitment to see a man about a dog.

Heads they win, tails you lose!

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  1. Matters Not

    Re: – “who’s going to pay for that”. A good question that’s given an airing throughout this piece – which is then answered albeit by implication (sort of)

    then you and I pay for it. … appropriate for you and I to pay for this trip … we couldn’t go on stiffing the taxpayer

    Don’t know about your circumstances, but one thing I am certain of is that I don’t pay for it as a ‘taxpayer’ because with a few quick calculations I determine I get somewhat more from the public purse than I contribute. In short – I am not a net taxpayer – more a tax bludger – and haven’t been an effective taxpayer for more than two decades.

    No I don’t get any type of Age or Disability pension; a Health Card; Rental Assistance and the like but I do benefit from dividend imputation both directly (cash return from the ATO) and indirectly via my superannuation account. Further, the allocated pension from my super is tax free (for me) – what accountants etc call a tax expenditure – defined as:

    government spending through the tax code. Tax expenditures alter the horizontal and vertical equity of the basic tax system by allowing exemptions, deductions, or credits to select groups or specific activities

    But not being a net taxpayer doesn’t mean I’m not concerned how others feed off what can be called the Public Purse. While not a net taxpayer, I am a Citizen! And as a Citizen I have a right to vote – (something not afforded to taxpayers like children, foreigners, corporations. and the like.) As a Citizen I have the right (indirectly) to determine how the public purse will be filled (via tax levies) and then allocated. Unlike tax-paying BHP, the Big 4 Banks etc who have tax-paying obligations (not citizenship rights) I have a vested interest in how the public purse is protected.

    Perhaps, when we consider our relationship to Government we might draw a distinction between our role as Citizens (essential to voting rights) and our (incidental) role as taxpayers. (But probably not – because it’s how the Americans and other fellow neo-liberals define themselves.)

  2. Kerri

    It would appear the consequences of ripping of the tax payer is to get a Queen’s honour?

  3. Kathryn

    I notice the Murdoch-manipulated media are now doing a beat-up on Labor but absolutely NOTHING SAID about the non-stop, relentless corruption, fraudulent misuse of taxpayer funds and ceasless rorting by the self-serving, totally corrupt fascists in the LNP! It never ceases to amaze me just how one-eyed, misguided and prejudiced the malignant media are in this country – sadly, so many misinformed, apathetic and gullible people in Australia hang on to EVERY word and vote accordingly! No wonder this country is going to hell in a neoliberal handbasket!

  4. Geoff Andrews

    A possible solution to these rorts is to allocate to each party at the start of each financial year, an amount based primarily on the number of party representatives and where each electorate is. A member claiming expenses would then have to convince his own party members that the claim was genuine. This current rort wouldn’t have reached first base under this proposal. There has been enough statistical data on parliamentary expenses over, say, the last six years to be able to to calculate what a reasonable amount of expenses for, say, a back-bencher in a remote country electorate spends a year on genuine expenses, as opposed to a member in a capital city electorate. Given all the data, any mathematician could work out the expenses for each electorate and the extra needed for prime minister, foreign minister, opposition leader etc.
    On second thoughts, scrape the idea: it would lead to parties tearing themselves apart like a pack of wolves fighting over a carcass and we couldn’t risk disturbing the excellence of the current system, could we.

  5. Bronte ALLAN

    Very well put Terrance! The trouble with ALL these effing COALition idiots is that that are all so “croooked” they could not lay straight in bed! ALL this rabble of lying, flat earth, right wing, obscenely overpaid bunch of so-called “politicians” are in it just for the money, perks & lurks etc & of course favors to all their shonky business tycoons, pastoraislts, mining magnates, media barons etc. And NOTHING will change unless ALL Australian voters see through their smoke & mirrors & LIES & vote Labor in at the next election.

  6. Keitha Granville

    Sadly not just the Liarbrals Bronte, they ALL do it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is listed somewhere on the ‘ reasons to become an MP’ pamphlet it says ‘ opportunity to get a bunch of free stuff that doubles your salary’.

    Nobody is going to change it, ever.

  7. Gangey1959

    I waited with bated breath for voldemurdoch’s “54 minutes of bullshit and 15 minutes of ads” report on “political corruption at the highest level” that if not portrayed to We the Voter would have been a lack of professional duty by the jerknalests involved, only to find that it was a hatchet piece on some Victorian labor thug who has been caught using the Fbomb too often, and spreading cash around at will. I turned it off in disgust and went to lerv eyeland for comfort, and to settle my rage.
    I have no doubt that whatever the guy in the article was doing happened, and he should be nailed to the wall for it. Is he one of danny andrews’ mates, Who cares? Nail them both up, (just wait till we get through this virus thing before you take down the premier, he’s good at it)
    Where was the good stuff? You know, scotty and ms mckenzie and the sports money, or agnes tailspin and “insert misdemeanor here”, or the list goes on, and dare I say, on.
    Come on guys. We the voter are not stupid. Tired, but not stupid.
    At the moment, one of our most offensive tv ads is the one for “the age” here in Melbourne. It used to be a good read. Now, I wouldn’t use it for dunny paper, my bum won’t let me lest I catch something bad.
    It claims to be balanced, unbiased, truthful, honest, crap, crap, crap……
    Hang on while I rinp the pope and ask him whether god is real, and when he helped Noah build his ark, because lets face it, no-one with only a saw and an adze can build a boat that big on his own. How did Noah know what side to put the nav lights on? Did he have a couple of goes at getting the steering right? Were they laden or unladen swallows?. I’ll get a more believable answer.
    Meanwhile, the real graft and corruption goes on unabated, and the poor dumb souls who think that kimmy kardashian is queen of america watch on in anger, and decide to vote liberal at the next state election because corruption must stop. Even when voting liberal will cost them their jobs and their kids education.

    “Someone should blow television up” T Bullpit

  8. wam

    A great read, waltz, reminds me of the days when there was a base grade clerk who assessed claims and these would not have qualified. The rabbott had the trick he called past a clinic on the way to the airport at the end of his two fundraiser in melb. Thus qualified for his funds. The boys and girls flow to india by gina but flew home commercial hired a taxi in singapore to see a exit and entry roads to claim the fare.
    but labor is no better

  9. Phil

    They laugh at us while they laugh all the way to the bank.”

    I wouldn’t mind if they actually worked for their pay and expenses. This playing at being a politician, is the best gravy train to have ever come down the tracks. Where else can you get 200 grand a year plus, sit around pissed up and call someone a mug every two minutes, just to reassure the mug taxpayer watching at you at home, that you are actually awake and not in a Chardonnay induced coma.

    You would think with the money they’re earning they could buy some clothes that actually fit them properly, a lot of them obviously didn’t have a mother to show them how to put a tie on. Most of them look like a bag of shit tied in the middle.

    The only work these parasites do is when their stomachs are working overtime to digest the French cheese, caviar (Russian of course) top notch plonk and other nosh most plebs can’t afford to buy. I would hate to be a cleaner in the parliamentary crappers. I bet they have seen some sights in there. Yep I bet it’s more entertaining than a bucks night piss up. I just imagine the knee tremblers up against the dunny doors and the brown paper bags being exchanged under the gap in the wall. I will always remember Senator Baum waxing lyrically about how he grafted for his constituents. He actually took the head of the plumbers union out with him to see what he did. The report back from the union was he did SFA.

    And before the water cooler set defend them. I have been a soldier, a law enforcement officer, worked on ships, dug holes, and ran my own business successfully for twenty years. I know what work is. Politicians don’t work, they turn up. Australia would probably recover from the economy that’s going under quicker, if they all stayed at home.

  10. Wam

    There used to be an overall check ‘spend within the financial year or hand it back‘. This meant a stimulus each may/june but the pollies decided to transfer allowances to salary (the lying rodent gave a little pay rise with $20k postage bang straight into the pocket, no letters and claim for letter drops.)
    It would not be difficult to set up a website where the politicians list their meetings ‘where who with how long and expected outcomes.’

  11. RomeoCharlie29

    I wonder if anyone has commented on the fortuitous timing of this Age/45 Minutes expose? With the Eden-Monaro by-election impending a rather nasty anti Labor story is just too coincidental, coming as it does from a mob whose Chief is a former LNP Treasurer. A timely hatchet job indeed. Which is not to say the story of branch-stacking isn’t interesting but where does it sit in the scheme of things like Sports Rorts and the many other multi-million fund-shifting enterprises indulged in by this coalition? Small beer I reckon ( but distressing) and it gives the yellow Murdoch Media another rod with which to flog Labor and Albanese.

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