“Mr Abbott’s spokeswoman confirmed the Prime Minister had repaid the $1095 cost of travelling to Sophie Mirabella’s 2006 wedding “in the last few days”.”
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbott-repays-expenses-after-charging-taxpayers-to-attend-sophie-mirabellas-wedding-20131006-2v1ny.html#ixzz2gyoO4CRn
Commenting on the wedding in India
“But former Howard government minister Peter Reith disagreed, describing the wedding expense scandals as ”petty” and arguing that politicians should be entitled to unlimited travel.
”I don’t understand how you can have a system which says that some things that ministers do are part of business and others aren’t,” Mr Reith said.
”I think it’s ridiculous putting limits on where ministers can go.”
Expenses scandals marred the early days of the Howard government with seven cabinet ministers resigning after breaching rules that required ministers to divest shares in portfolios they oversaw and be truthful in Parliament.
As a minister Mr Reith racked up a $50,000 phone bill at taxpayers’ expense, which he repaid.
Asked whether taxpayers should foot the bill for MPs to attend weddings, Mr Reith said: ”Since when is that not being part of being a politician, you know, going out for lunch with a shock jock or going to his wedding? You’d be a mug if you didn’t go to a shock jock’s wedding if you’re invited.”
“The charges against Mr Slipper relate to three incidents in 2010 when Mr Slipper is claimed to have travelled to a handful of Canberra’s wineries.
He is alleged to have dishonestly caused “a risk of loss” to a person, in this case to the Department of Finance.
Making a formal statement outside the court, Mr Slipper said the key issue was whether the cost of the trips was within or outside his parliamentary entitlements.
He also said he had not been treated like other politicians, who he argued were allowed to resolve such matters with the finance department.
“Not guilty pleas have been entered. I strongly maintain my innocence and this matter will be vigorously defended,” Mr Slipper said.
“This matter, though, should be looked at in perspective. What we’re talking about is whether a sum of $964 expended was within or outside entitlement.
“And that’s a matter which is usually handled administratively between the member and the Department of Finance.
“Instead, this matter has been set down for a seven-day trial. I regret that I have not been given the equivalence of treatment given to other members and Senators.”
– See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/archive/national-affairs/former-speaker-peter-slipper-pleads-not-guilty-to-cabcharge-fraud/story-fndckad0-1226649085545#sthash.ouL8C1pM.dpuf
Ok, what do the three stories have in common? That’s right – they’re all about Coalition MPs claiming travel allowances that are “ambiguous”. Let’s not forget that Peter Slipper was a Coalition MP at the time of the alleged offence. Peter Reith, of course, defends them. Reith, you may remember had a minor bit of trouble with a phone card. He gave details of his taxpayer-funded telecard to his son, but “somehow” these details fell into the hands of someone else leading to $50,000 worth of calls being made.
It seemed that in the investigation about who passed on the details to whom, the fundamental point was missed. What was Reith doing handing the details over to his son in the first place? Just for emergencies, we were told. Mm, couldn’t he have set up a private telecard for his son?
At the time Howard dismissed it as unimportant, saying, “I certainly don’t regard that as a hanging offence”. Of course not, Australia doesn’t have capital punishment. But somehow, anything that wasn’t “a hanging offence” meant that there was no need for any further action and that we should all just have a cup of tea and a good lie-down.
So we now have the absurd situation that Peter Slipper is facing charges over an amount that won’t pay for the cost of the Prosecution Barrister for more than a day, because “someone” referred the matter to the AFP.
On the other hand, members of the Coalition have travel claims where the guidelines are “ambiguous”. But hey, they’ve paid them back, so it’s all ok. Hey, look over there, is that Tony Abbott shaking hands with a world leader… Who said he’d be an embarrassment? He went to Indonesia and now we have a deal on something and the details will be worked out later.
He’s met the Chinese leader and they’ve agreed that trade is good. Tomorrow he’ll meet with John Kerry and they’ll say that the climate in Bali is just fine. And people want to talk about travel claims. Geez, some of you are just never happy!
Right, we’ll move on. No-one’s committed a “hanging office”. So I guess there’s only one thing I want to know now: How on earth does a trip to Wangaratta cost $1000?
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