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The jet-setting Steve Ciobo

If you were wondering why you haven’t seen Steven Ciobo, our Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, lately, it’s because he is rarely in the country. For the first six months of the re-elected Turnbull government, Ciobo claimed almost $700,000 in expenses.

His airfares alone are staggering.

Nine days after the election, he headed off to the USA to attend the Australian American Leadership Dialogue – fares $18,127.30

Two weeks later, he went to Indonesia and Laos to attend a meeting of the ASEAN Economic Ministers – fares $21,229.36

A week after his return he was off again to Colombia, Chile, to conduct bilateral and stakeholder meetings – fares, an eyewatering $74,856.08

Four days after that, he was off to New Zealand to attend a Special Forum Trade Ministers’ meeting on PACER Plus and to conduct bilateral meetings – fares $6,102.78

A week later it was the UK and Belgium to conduct a series of high-level bilateral and stakeholder meetings – fares $41,642.79

The next week he went to China to speak at the Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia Investors’ Forum and conduct meetings with key Hong Kong based investors – fares $34,626.90

Five days after that, it was Iran to conduct bilateral meetings and lead a business delegation – fares $40,831.56

Three weeks later it was back to Norway, Netherlands, and the UK to conduct bilateral meetings and launch the new working holiday maker campaign by Tourism Australia – fares $45,331.86

A few days later, it lists a trip to the Philippines to attend the 2nd Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Intersessional Ministerial Meeting but he didn’t go. That did not stop him from listing the trip and claiming $48 for a “travel advance”.

Less than two weeks after that, Ciobo flew to Peru to attend the APEC Ministerial Meeting – fares $46,998.00

Two weeks later, he was off to Switzerland and Indonesia to participate in the Environmental Goods Agreement Ministerial Meeting and conduct bilateral and stakeholder meetings – fares $38,538.15

A week after that, he ended the year with a trip to Israel to participate in the Australia-Israel-UK Leadership Dialogue and conduct bilateral meetings but has so far only claimed $679.62 in travel and expense advances (whatever the hell that means) so we can look forward to another 50 grand or so for that trip to come on top of the $417,079.95 he has already claimed for overseas travel in that 6 month period.

Domestic airfares and comcars added another $45,431.44 as well as $6,576.97 for family travel and $13,822 travelling allowance.

Other expenses claimed for the period 1 July to 31 December 2016 included $212,292.17 for Office Facilities, Administrative Costs and Telecommunications.

This is the same Steve Ciobo who, in 2011, nearly caused a “diplomatic incident” by refusing to pay an $8000 hotel bill when he was on a UN exchange in New York for three months.

MPs on exchange were allocated one-bedroom apartments by the department of finance at $11,300 a month but Ciobo wanted to take his wife and 2 year old child and upgraded himself to a two bedroom apartment costing almost $14,000 a month.

When it came time to pay the bill, the Department of Finance refused to cover the cost of the difference between a one and two-bedroom apartment. And so did Mr Ciobo despite numerous letters of demand from the Department. The outstanding amount of $7486 was finally paid by the Australian mission in New York to prevent a diplomatic controversy.

One wonders how productive these endless talkfests are. Businesses and investors have a way of making contact themselves without having to drag a very expensive ideologically-driven party-bound Minister along with them.


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  1. Klaus Petrat

    Material to have a cleansing puke!

    I met the bloke with Champagnes in his hand, standing by the pool side at the Marriott Surfers Paradise. A very unimpressive figure when you see him up close.

    I was oh so tempted to bump him into the water.

  2. diannaart

    Has anyone explained Skype to the minister?

  3. pierre wilkinson

    How do they get away with this extensive rorting, and what class is he flying? Gold or platinum plus?

  4. Clean livin

    He’s having problems with the NBN. Quicker to visit!

  5. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    So does Ciobo take his wife and child on every journey? If so, that could explain his decision to snort from the public purse coz his nearest and dearest are there to enjoy too.

  6. helvityni

    I’m sure I saw him in India, pally with the coal king Mr Adani… ( Four Corners)

  7. Glenn Barry

    If he really puts in a good effort he can crack 2 Million for the year

  8. Kaye Lee

    The expenses I gave are for the second half of 2016. I started looking at stuff for this year and after just covering the last few weeks I ran out of puff.

    20 August 2017

    We will visit Singapore on 21 August for meetings with senior government representatives to further enhance Australia’s relationship with our Comprehensive Strategic Partner and advance our economic, security and defence interests in the region.

    August 29, 2017

    Australia’s federal and state tourism ministers yesterday held their first meeting outside Australia and New Zealand — in Beijing.

    29 August 2017

    This week I will lead a large trade delegation to the world’s fastest-growing major economy for the second Australia Business Week in India (ABWI).

    8 September 2017

    This weekend I will visit the Philippines to advance Australia’s trade and investment interests at ASEAN-related ministerial meetings.

    16 September 2017

    Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, Zhong Shan hosted the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, for the 15th Joint Ministerial Economic Commission (JMEC) on 15 September 2017 in Beijing.

    20 September 2017

    Today I will meet with Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita in Jakarta as negotiations on the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) near conclusion.

    2 October 2017

    I will lead a trade delegation to Mexico this week to build Australia’s trade and investment relationship with the powerhouse Latin American economy.

  9. Miriam English

    Government ministers should be required to travel economy class, unless they want to cough up extra themselves out of their own pocket for more luxury. They get paid more than enough as it is. These idiots are not royalty; they’re simple crooks.

  10. Regional Elder

    As Trade Minister, greater than usual overseas travel can be expected. However, it seems that Steve Ciobo has taken Tony Abbott as his parliamentary mentor in seeking to become via his parliamentary portfolio, a voracious consumer and beneficiary of Australian taxpayers’ labours.

    Abbott’s capacity to ‘work the system ‘ to have government coffers pay for almost everything he does, is unparalleled. But Ciobo seems set to challenge him.

    Thank you Kaye for reminding us of Ciobo’s early form on this in 2011 when on U.N. exchange in New York.

    The question has to be asked. ” What are we as a nation getting from the massive $1.1 million plus investment (salary plus travel expenses) in this Minister ? ”

    As a compulsive traveller, Ciobo seems little more than an economic liability.

  11. margcal

    Perhaps these talkfests are beneficial for those for whom this is a one-off for the year. But Ciobo doesn’t seem to be in the country long enough to prepare for such meetings nor to give a decent report afterwards. He’s probably too tired to take in much anyway when he’s there.
    He needs to take lessons from one-time travellers like me. My ‘last hurrah’ trip prior to retirement, I was away for 10 weeks. I had a total of 8 nights free accommodation with friends. I paid for absolutely everything else – a shade under $25,000.
    And he should be careful or he’ll get a DVT/PE on his return like I did. My 10 days in hospital was ‘free’ in a public hospital, paid by my and your taxes. Thank you!
    He’s scum of the earth – but not on his own in that within the LNP.

  12. Blind Venitian

    This is the same bastard who threartened to cut Julia Gillards throat when she was PM,he is a real nasty smart arse and typical arrogant useless born to rule Tory and i dont like him!~~!

  13. Matters Not

    Yes KL, there’s some issues there but you have only scratched the surface. Ongoing rorts at many levels. (But don’t tell anyone.)

  14. Ella miller

    Apart from skype have we not got ambassadors in many of these doubt costing a mint. A disgraceful show of avarice…whilst the unemployed the aged and sick are slogged with everything . No wonder our deficit grows and grows . They seem to have the attitude of “not being in power for a long time , so they may as well make it a GOOD time.”
    Advance Australia Fair.???

  15. helvityni

    Is our Steve going to surf wearing a suit, Armani, no doubt….

  16. crinoidblog

    Come on, Give Minister Ciobo a break, He has a tough act to follow after Andrew Robb. How hard must it be to line up your next gig? Also, if he carries surfboards under his arm while wearing an expensive suit, his dry cleaning bills must be astronomical.

  17. Ricardo29

    The productivity commission needs to take a look at this bloke, and indeed all of the ministers, to see whether we are getting value for money, or perhaps (here’s a thought) open him up to some competition. We need to demand to see the results and I don’t just mean the dud FTA’s that Robb was so chuffed about.

  18. Jeanette

    Don’t his family have a travel business? I know they have their own private road in “chop chop” country. So I guess he very nicely is acting for mum n dad also, more contacts for them. From the land where public servants make an art of doing nothing he appears to be following the same format. (Just viewed an Italian film depicting just this…made by Italians). As a aged pensioner having worked 50+ years and having been at the mercy of those who feel more entitled such as this clown sending him to oblivion of losing an election would not make a dent in his and many other MP’s sense of their own superiority.

  19. Aortic

    And this was the goose who referred to the GFC as the “so called ” GFC. Apart from the PM and perhaps the Foreign Minister they should be allotted. an allowance according to seniority and once that. is gone too bad. Watch the five star become three star, the Krug become sparkling white and the sharp end become blunter.Bunch of bludging pariahs.

  20. Matters Not

    I suspect that as Minister Ciobo flies and flies around the world at our expense, his total of frequent flyer points continues to mount. Properly managed, Steve will never have to pay for a flight again even after a long retirement. (Unless they have made changes. But I suspect not because all politicians see it as a nice sideline.)

    Mal Colston, Senator for Queensland from 1975 to 1999, while never a Minister certainly knew how to build up the points. Would often take a flight from Brisbane to Perth, spend an hour or so in the terminal and then take the return flight. Probably died with many, many unused points. Know any number of retired pollies who are working their way through a large accumulation.

    As for Public Servants … smart ones use their personal ‘card’ to pay for flights and get the ‘points’ then seek reimbursement. (Also may have changed.)

  21. Andrew Smith

    After working in international education offshore and observing, it’s the tip of the iceberg and has been happening for decades.

    Besides junketing MPs there are the top people in public sector, i.e. universities, TAFE and related govt. agencies from top to middle management viewing international travel as an entitlement or perk; often supported by Austrade Emerging Market Development Grants which would, I think, refund marketing related costs above $20k (meaning SMEs may think twice).

    Knew someone senior at Austrade, administrative manager related to marketing of education, who claimed verbally that digital marketing strategies were too complicated for people working in education (even though they teach marketing?).

    Conversely, to be fair, Austrade would become redundant if it didn’t offer support for events offshore for ‘clients’ i.e. university/TAFE managers, e.g. education fairs to network amongst each other, distribute marketing materials, self promote, shop, dine, stay nice hotels, collect FF points, per diem etc., and maybe even meet some genuine students (while return on investment ROI was unrelated and their key performance indicators KPIs were outsourced to agents).

    Further, friends and family working in finance or accounting used to complain about e.g. local councils demanding travel opportunities, especially international, as it mirrors the old ruling class i.e. the top people travel to the mother country, ‘status’ signalling.

  22. Kaye Lee

    Lawdy lawdy….

    Steve Ciobo claimed another $342,037 on overseas travel in the first three months of this year.

    The government is now reporting expense claims quarterly rather than every six months with plans to move to quarterly reporting but it is costing us a motza. “The Turnbull government will spend $80 million a year on its new parliamentary entitlements authority, and its chief executive will be paid a $340,000 salary package.”

    Also, Cory Bernardi charged the taxpayer $1600 to attend a fundraiser to pay for that fool Kirralie Smith’s legal defence for a defamation case brought by the halal certification authority. How is that official business?

  23. Matters Not

    Seems to me there’s some work to do re the reporting methodology – what constitutes ‘expenses’, for whom and what needs some work.

    The expenses reports reveal ministers with overseas-focused portfolios predictably spent the most on overseas travel – Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Steve Ciobo forked out $342,037 while Foreign Minister Julie Bishop spent $283,955. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spent $73,358, including travel to China, Peru, New Zealand, Indonesia, India and Papua New Guinea.

    When Turnbull, for example, uses the government aeroplane (presumably) for travel to China, Peru, New Zealand, Indonesia, India and Papua New Guinea, one wonders how that is costed? Does it include the cost of Lucy? Why is the government aeroplane transport so cheap? (Perhaps.) When Bishop and Ciobo travel, presumably by using commercial flights, does it include ‘partner costs’ (if not then why not?) Does it include accommodation? Many, many unanswered questions.

    Seems to me that the numbers are dodgy.

  24. Kaye Lee

    Holy crap batman. Is Ciobo worth this much?

    Switzerland, United States 16 Jan to 31 Jan 17
    To attend the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, co-lead the annual G’Day USA event with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and conduct bilateral and stakeholder meetings.

    OS Ministerial – Fares $105,541.75
    OS Ministerial – Accommodation and meals $23,999.78
    Total $157,566.13

    China 19 Feb to 23 Feb 17
    To participate in the Strategic Economic Dialogue, conduct bilateral meetings and lead a tourism industry trade mission.

    OS Ministerial – Fares $37,154.19

    Indonesia, Qatar, United Kingdom, Chile 6 Mar to 17 Mar 17
    To lead the Australian delegation to Indonesia Australia Business Week, participate in the inaugural Commonwealth trade Ministers’ meeting, attend the Pacific Alliance High-Level dialogue and conduct a series of meetings.

    OS Ministerial – Fares $90,474.81
    OS Ministerial – Accommodation and meals $8,831.50

    And the Israel trip from last December got added in…..

    Israel 16 Dec to 22 Dec 16
    To participate in the Australia-Israel-UK Leadership Dialogue and conduct bilateral meetings.

    OS Ministerial – Fares $42,585.56
    OS Ministerial – Accommodation and meals $5,793.36

  25. Andrew Smith

    Rank amateurs when it comes to travel rorts compared with the top people in universities etc., here’s an old one, but just tip of the iceberg and repeated often:

    ‘VC resigned in 2006 following revelations by The Age and MPs that he spent more than a third of 2003 overseas. La Trobe spent more than $620,000 (in real terms that’s now well into $1 million+) on his 32 international trips from 2003 to 2005.’

    I’m aware of something related going on with several senior academic and corporates with another university; no surprise since they all went neo-liberal and demanding ‘academic freedom’ for the top personnel decades ago…… while gouging international and now local students…..

    My concern is that Australians don’t even seem to care about ethics anymore amongst our business, political or public sector elites; then again it’s impossible to follow any issue in Oz nowadays amongst all the fluff of cultural and other wedge issues polluting our minds….

  26. king1394

    Travel doesn’t even seem to be expanding his mind

  27. Matters Not

    Here’s a significant defect in the whole ‘expenses’ reporting model.

    A spokesman for the new Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority told Guardian Australia on Friday the term “electorate business” was not currently defined in legislation, so it was up to individual senators or members to determine if what they were doing was electorate business.

    “If a Senator from NSW determined they needed to travel to WA for electorate purposes, then travel and travelling allowance costs could be met by the Commonwealth,” the spokesman said.

    Note: the term “electorate business” was not currently defined in legislation … So this new Expenses Authority (under legislation) allows individuals to determine what is “electorate business” and thereby determine their reimbursement. Fox in charge of the henhouse?

    So we have a Senator from New South Wales taking a return trip to Perth on what seems like his own party business and receiving a reimbursement of $9 000 using the ‘catch all’ of ‘electoral business’. Seems to me that it will cause even more outrage. (Which is probably a good thing.)

  28. Miriam English

    king1394, that’s probably because he only cares about it expanding his bank account.

  29. Kaye Lee

    It is just laughable….

    TAXPAYERS have spent more than $20,000 on a dozen trips to Queensland holiday resorts taken by Industry Minister Greg Hunt and his family over more than a decade.

    Western Australian Liberal MP Steve Irons, who charged taxpayers for flights to his own wedding has reported spending nearly $2000 for his wife to travel to a golf tournament in Queensland.

    He said he attended the December 2015 Australian PGA event on the Gold Coast to study “golf tourism opportunities” – reporting the trip as “electorate business”, despite representing the marginal Perth seat of Swan.

    In 2013, Mr Irons repaid more than $10,000 for flights and taxis, including for travel to Melbourne coinciding with his son’s AFL debut for Port Adelaide in 2011.

  30. Roswell

    Kaye, if it’s to watch Port Adelaide then it’s OK then. ?

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