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Wherever I lay my hat that’s my home

Image from

Image from

In 1996 John Howard became the first Prime Minister to make Kirribilli House in Sydney his prime residence. Over the next 12 years, this decision cost the taxpayers $18.4 million in flights between Canberra and Sydney.

According to the Department of Defence’s Schedule of Special Purpose Flights for the second half of 2002, Howard ordered 43 flights between Sydney and Canberra. Ten of those flights flew empty between Canberra and Sydney. Each flight cost $7500.

The RAAF’s No. 34 Squadron operated the VIP fleet of five aircraft, which, in those days, cost $60 million a year to run. The lease on the current RAAF fleet of two Boeing 737 business jets and three smaller Challenger 604 aircraft cost $600 million and will expire this year when Tony Abbott intends to opt for bigger and better planes.

Last week, a ‘reluctant’ Tony Abbott became the second Prime Minister to opt for living in Kirribilli House. He said he would prefer to stay in his home in Forestville but Skynews suggested there were security concerns.

To accommodate Mr Howard’s family, renovations were done at Kirribilli House. Two sets of stairs were installed and a bathroom was refitted at a cost of $185,000. In their third year of residence a new dining room table and 20 chairs were ordered, a cost of $82,000. A door required widening to get the table inside. Tony has said he has no plans for expensive alterations and I think Margie is a very different woman from Janette so hopefully we won’t have to shell out even more for that. I wonder if they will move into the Lodge after its expensive alterations.

In May 2007, it was reported that John Howard’s department had spent almost $110,000 on alcohol for The Lodge and Kirribilli House in the previous four years with over $30,000 spent in the first 4 months of 2007. It was an election year after all – the schmoozing bill was bound to escalate.

He was accused of using Kirribilli House for Liberal party fundraisers, something he claimed was not a breach of propriety as the Liberal Party were picking up the tab. It was the taxpayer however who picked up the tab for lavish Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties for “a cross-section of Sydney society”.

Tony used Kirribilli House for a similar function when he held a soiree to thank people like Piers Ackerman, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones and Miranda Devine for their contribution to journalism (cough).

Mr Abbott said “when you take on a particular job, a particular residence goes with it and you do have to go with that particular flow.” Well normally that would be the Lodge but it is currently undergoing repair works. That is why the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet signed a 12-month lease on a house in August, during the caretaker period.

Mr Abbott, for reasons known only to himself, refused to move into this house which will cost taxpayers $3000 a week for 12 months unless they can negotiate to terminate the lease, something they had been unsuccessful in achieving so far according to an ABC article from late November last year.

I wonder if Tony Abbott has considered what this decision will cost we taxpayers. Aside from maintaining several residences, the flights to and from Canberra, often empty one way, add up to a lot of money. Tony’s decision this week to hold a Cabinet meeting in Perth, even though they were all in Canberra together a few days earlier, shows he doesn’t really care about the cost of flights or accommodation. Why would he – he never sees the bill.

Perhaps Margie and Bridget wanted to stay in Sydney. If that was their choice then they should do as so many other families do when one partner has to travel for work – meet up when and where your schedules allow. That is the price you pay for the employment decisions you make. There are generous family travel allowances to facilitate this.

I presume that by making Sydney his principal place of residence, Abbott is entitled to claim $268 per night travel allowance when he is in Canberra among the many other entitlements that politicians receive. Their travel bill is astronomical. One would have thought that in these days of teleconferencing and e-communication we could cut this bill by a huge amount. There would be less photos (a side bonus) and it would be far more productive, saving time and money.

As I think of people on the dole being forced to accept jobs that are more than 90 minutes from their home and wonder about the cost, both financial and social, that they will have to pay, I will be checking with interest how much this government is spending on Parliamentarian’s entitlements and on the Lodge, Kirribilli House, the empty rented mansion, and wherever it is that Tony actually stays when he goes to Canberra. In my opinion it would be far cheaper and more productive if our Prime Minister lived in Canberra. What would be even more productive would be if he lived in Tristan de Cunha.


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  1. abbienoiraude

    Shocking figures!
    Had to look up ‘Tristan de Cunha’ ( thanks for the Geography lesson). I laughed.

    Wherever I hang my hat, wherever I lay my head….tis my home.

  2. kathysutherland2013

    Bah humbug! I’m more than happy to pay my taxes to support services and quality of life for Australians (you know, trivial things like health, education, humanitarian services…. ) but just so Tony has somewhere classy to live?

  3. Brian

    Goes with the job doesn’t it? Piss taxpayers money up the wall at any time and for any reason. Always more where that came from.

  4. Russ

    When in Canberra, he stays at the AFP College in Barton. Some of the media like to suggest he lives a monk’s existence in a tiny room, but the rumour is that they actually sent some student police to “other accommodation” so that they could empty two whole floors for him.

    Make sure you count the cost of the other lodgings when you do your sums.

  5. vivienne29

    Frankly this gives me the shits.

  6. Fed up

    It is not only the cost of transporting Abbott back and forward, but that of his staff and he is meeting with.

    The centre of the Federal Government is in Canberra, that is where his workplace is. That is where he should reside.

  7. mikisdad

    Bravo Kaye – an excellent piece and one that should be read and considered by *all* Australians.

    It is long past time these sorts of rorts were clearly exposed in a way that people and the media can no longer ignore – preferably on massive bill-boards adjacent to every major highway and in all central locations across the country, and at every ad break during televised major sporting events.

    Should significant numbers of people really digest this information, the smell of puke in the land will be unbearable.

  8. mikisdad

    Bravo Kaye! An excellent piece and one that should be read and digested by *all* Australians.

    It is long past time these sorts of rorts were halted. I would like to see them exposed on giant billboards adjacent to all major highways and in central locations in all towns and cities across the country. In addition I think this information should be broadcast at every ad. break during televised major sporting events.

    If that were done and enough Australians actually started to digest the message, we’d know right away because the smell of puke would be evident across the nation.

  9. Pingback: Wherever I lay my hat that’s my home « The Australian Independent Media Network « SNAFU

  10. Dissenter

    Just another perk of the job, Numerous homes and all for free, the lot.
    Still trying to comprehend the idiocy of the 300,000 house. Why can;t someone else sublet it? Just a thought.
    There must be LNP members asking for accomodation fees all the time. Perhaps it should be their hostel.

  11. VoterBentleigh

    The PM and his followers would not like Tristan da Cunha, even though the National Anthem is ‘God Save the Queen’, because its website says:
    “All land is communally owned and various measures are in place to prevent better off families from gaining excess wealth.”

  12. Kaye Lee

    They obviously need him so he can set them straight on that. Look on it as capitalist missionary work.

  13. billabonglime

    Reblogged this on Nuclear Ideas and commented:
    Stop The Waste now Abbott does similar rents a luxury home in Canberra but kips with the boys in uniform at Fed Police bunkhouse. Taxpayers foot the bill for the house he doesn’t use and to break the lease. Stop The Waste I hear

  14. Gitte

    And our Prime Minister has the nerve to suggest that the ‘age of entitlements is over’. Abbott to feel ‘entitled’ to an awful lot. My husband works interstate (rents a room in a share house) and only comes home for 4 weeks in every 8 and has done so for the past 9 years. I’m sure Tony and Margie can work out something similar for the next 2 and a half.

  15. Pingback: Wherever I lay my hat that's my home | projectb...

  16. Paolo Soprani

    So what is the truth about the prime minister’s accommodation whilst in Canberra? Does he live a ‘monk’s existence at the AFP quarters or have they cleared floors for him? Does anybody know? Why a secret? Have to keep it quiet because that’s just how ‘The Liberals’ are. How odd to stay there anyway. Oh well, hardly surprising. Bit creepy actually. Neither fish nor fowl.

  17. bighead1883

    We will all know the meaning of profilgate by the time 2016 comes around because of the LNP.
    °Inclined to waste resources or behave extravagantly.
    °Immoral; abandoned to vice.
    °An abandoned person; one openly and shamelessly vicious; a dissolute person.
    °An overly wasteful or extravagant individual.
    °(obsolete) To drive away; to overcome.
    synonyms: extravagant, wasteful, immoral, licentious

  18. Pingback: Wherever I lay my hat that’s my home | WorldWright's …

  19. Fed up

    This is why we are living beyond our means., We are unwilling to raise revenue that is needed to provide services to take us forwarded.

    Not the bullshit we hear from this government, that we are spending beyond our means.

    We are a wealthy country that can afford to give our disable a decent life. In fact to do so, ads to our productivity.

    it is a matter of priories and choices

    blockquote>…………..Australia is living beyond its means, Parkinson warned. We don’t collect enough taxes to pay for public services. The good times can’t go on forever: sooner or later, we will face a recession. There are no easy answers; only tough decisions to raise taxes and cut spending can bring the budget back to balance….

    More Tax Or Deeper Cuts – It's Time To Choose

  20. cordannao

    couch surfing?

  21. Graeme Rust

    The hypocrisy of these bloody pollies is astounding, the waste that goes on in Canberra alone could build a new public hospital every year, all these lurks and perks HAVE to stop. as at the moment we cannot believe anything the government have dribbling out of their mouths.

  22. greenwing

    Howard’s hat should lay in a prison cell

  23. Ward Murphy

    Why wouldn’t you expect this government to exploit this perk when they encourage mining companies to fly in fly out their workforces.What happened to the not unreasonable expectation of living where your primary source of employment is based?No wonder Hockey can’t get his sums right!

  24. Mike

    What a stupid article. This is the prime minister of our nation. He needs to travel, he should be in appropriate accommodation. Fly more I say. I want him in the west to make sure he is not forgetting about WA.

  25. Stephen Tardrew

    With a bit of luck he might fall over the edge.

  26. Francesca Agosti

    What parallel universe are these politicians living in? Who do they think they are, Hollywood A-listers? When we hear about an ‘end to the age of entitlement’ whose sense of ‘entitlement’ are we actually talking about here? And this spending is the tip of the iceberge when we consider the very generous salary packages Australian politicians now demand, and the long list of perks that accompany over-generous salaries that mean these elected representatives of the people have in fact lost touch with the real world and the accompanying struggle that most Australians experience, not even taking into consideration the hardships suffered by the unemployed, pensioners, single parents, the disabled, those unable to work for whatever reason, such as caring for elderly parents etc. This obscene largesse at the taxpayer’s expense shows nothing but contempt for hard-working Australians. Utterly disgraceful.

  27. Conrad

    Some people give STUPID replies – thinking here of Mike who refers to Abbett’s ‘travel’ — it is not travel, it is his commuting from his home to his workplace. Abbott is what we call a ‘burke,’ and everything about him since 1995 has made me puke.

  28. Kaye Lee


    Just because Tony turns up somewhere doesn’t mean he is doing anything constructive. He will promise lots of things because you have an election. He won’t tell you how much those promises are costing you in cuts to other things. And will he deliver what you think he said or what he later says he meant?

  29. Kaye Lee

    “TONY Abbott has spent more than $120,000 overhauling Kirribilli House since winning the election – including $13,000 on a family room rug.

    The makeover of the Prime Minister’s official Sydney residence includes $64,988 of landscaping advice relating to dilapidated paths and how to prevent tree roots invading garden walls.

    Finance Department tender contracts show the landscaping advice is being done by Woollahra’s Taylor Brammer Landscape Architects, which specialises in advice for heritage-listed properties.

    “It was just a look at the general landscaping and paths in the context of it being a heritage property,” the firm’s owner Matthew Taylor said. (Bloody expensive advice!)

    Another $24,343 was spent at Waterloo’s Premier Carpets on floor coverings, while Sydney heritage roofing company Sovereign Slating Co won a $19,443 contract for repairs.”

    I guess he doesn’t think that’s much

  30. Michael Taylor

    I’m happy for him to go west. Why stop at WA though?

  31. rangermike1

    Is it possible that Abbott can still fit his oversized skull into a Texan 10 gallon hat ? The mind boggles. I assume there are cutouts for his ears.

  32. rangermike1

    Then again, the only substance between his ears is the Hot wind he blows from his suppository of wisdom. Pity he is not a Leader, just a lagging Idjit.

  33. adam

    Obviously, I think these figures are outrageous… And unnecessary… But equally as outrageous is when people post articles citing facts and figures about one party and not about the other… Makes reading your article feel like a sales pitch for the labor/greens alliance…

    Why not just say it how it is. All of our political options are filth and none of them actually know what it means to have the best interest of the people at heart…

    Tony is a terrible prime minister, but the alternatives are no better…

  34. Kaye Lee

    If I was giving a sales pitch for the greens I would be talking about their vastly superior policies on climate change, asylum seekers and high speed rail. If I was lauding the Labor Party I would talk about the many ground breaking pieces of legislation they passed in office and the reforms they got underway like pricing carbon, introducing a mining tax, Gonski reforms, starting the NBN rollout, NDIS, marine park legislation, water trigger protections, Murray-Darling buy back, paid parental leave etc etc.

    This article was about Abbott’s decision to commute from Sydney and how much that will cost us. I can’t compare this to Labor because Abbott and Howard are the only two who have ever made this decision. It is especially incongruous in the context of Abbott’s “stop the waste” mantra.

  35. lance



    The public purse pilferers -The Howard’s have been suckling off the public teet all their adult lives
    now the LNP wants to raise the age of retirement so us baby boomer peasants can have the pleasure of being taxed till we drop to fill the Howard’s cornucopian coffers

  36. mikisdad

    Adam, your criticism ( if one can dignify it with the term) of Kaye’s piece is both unwarranted and wrong. Firstly, Kaye does “say it how it is”. Whilst I have several times disagreed with her viewpoint, I’ve never known her to do other than that.

    That you choose to use the abusively derogatory term “filth” for *all* politicians is both unnecessary, unfair, and contradicts what you purport to be the motive for your comment, ie. for writers to “say it how it is”. You may find our political system to be failing and you may feel that all politicians are incompetent or self-serving or even corrupt but if you do then it would be better to put your mind to devising and promoting an alternative and superior system to the one we have. People are not filth, Adam, and deriding them as such is not useful. There are and have been many politicians who, to me, have been incompetent, unworthy, corrupt, or otherwise not worthy representatives of their constituents. They are still people, however misguided or untrustworthy.

    As for their being no current politician who could be a “better” alternative to Tony Abbott – you clearly have a very poor understanding of current policies of various parties; have not listened to or read any of what Tony Abbott and other politicians have said; have little understanding of our current political system and the implications of government actions; or you are simply ill-informed or have an IQ way below the average and no capacity for rational thought or analysis.

    There is one more option – though from the tone of your comment I doubt that it could apply to you – and that is that your final statement is made “tongue-in-cheek”, so to speak. Tony Abbott is one of the two worst Prime Minister’s of Australia’s history; the other being John Howard. If you cannot see that now, you may well realise it down the track, as the disastrous results of his policy direction start to bite.

  37. mikisdad

    Lance – well said, I like it.

  38. bjkelly1958

    “He said he would prefer to stay in his home in Forestville but Skynews suggested there were security concerns.” Since when did they become the Australian government’s security advisors?

    The whole episode highlights Abbott’s complete lack of understanding or sensitivity to,the life of ordinary Australians. Have we ever had a PM so out of touch with the people he is supposed to serve?

  39. Truth Seeker

    Kaye, thanks for another good read 😎 and anywhere but Australia would be fine with me 😉

    And on a related topic, my latest poem… Tony’s “Utilities R Us!”

    Tony’s “Utilities R Us”!

    Cheers 😀

  40. adam

    @mikisdad – what a wonderfully hypocritical comment…. Thank you… Firstly, I labeled our political options as filth, not our politicians… That was a reference to the parties and their policies.. not to the people them selves… That you would defend all people so diligently in one breath and then attack my IQ in the next shows how ridiculous this conversation is…

    I didn’t vote for the liberal national party, I think there policies are terrible… I just think articles should present themselves from a less bias pov.

    This article is out to prove how much money the liberal party wastes… All I’m saying is; they all waste money… In this regard they are all as bad as each other…

    Enjoy your agenda though and even more beautiful; enjoy the next 2 1/2 years… He is our prime minister whether we like it or not…

  41. Kaye Lee


    I agree the issue of parliamentary entitlements is one that really needs looking at as both Coalition and Labor party MPs rort the system. I have not heard about the Greens and Independents doing that but I may be wrong. The waste is horrendous and it is not just by the Liberals. I will however reiterate that this article was about Abbott’s choice to commute from Sydney. Just one example of more waste.

  42. Paula Fairbairn

    In Canada and the United States the seat of government is placed outside the major cities and away from business influences. Their capital cities are largely government and education cities in smaller centres away from the influence of big business interests.

    Canberra seems to be the only attempt at this practice in Australia.

    Admittedly, the world has become more connected since these centres were established but, it’s not possible to stop by for barbecues and morning coffee. It is less easy to lobby and visit without your travel being noticed. Business and politics should not live and work in the same milieu.

    Thank you for your excellent article of the costs. The whole thing makes my blood boil.

  43. mikisdad


    I cannot see any hypocrisy in my response to your posting. Could you please spell out for me what it is that you consider to have been hypocritical?

    Your denial of having labelled people as “filth” is invalid. Here is what you said:

    “All of our political options are filth and *none of them actually know what it means to have the best interest of the people at heart*…” (My emphasis)

    “none of them actually know…” Leaving aside the grammatical confusion which, of itself, indicates that is people rather concepts on which you are commenting; how can a political option “know” anything? Despite your denial, you did, as I said, refer directly to people – to politicians – and referred to them as ‘filth”.

    I didn’t attack your IQ. I suggested 3 possible causes for you having made the comments that you did. You have clearly chosen to accept the third one. That is your prerogative.

    “This article is out to prove how much money the liberal party wastes” Kaye has already answered this inaccurate statement. The article addressed particular actions which, as it happens, have only been taken by Liberal Party Prime Ministers. There was no general discussion of the relative waste of political parties in the article. On the contrary, it was a well balanced and clear report of actual and specific events. That you choose to see it as an argument that the Liberal Party is more wasteful than other political parties is probably an unconscious knowledge that such is the truth. However that is not what was argued in the article.

    You began your response to me with an (inaccurate) assertion that I had been hypocritical or, in other words, contradicted myself. I await your justification for that assertion. However, in the meanwhile you might wish to consider your own words:

    “I didn’t vote for the liberal national party, I think there policies are terrible…”
    “Enjoy your agenda though and even more beautiful; enjoy the next 2 1/2 years…”

    Can you see the contradiction there, Adam?

    Now, because I’m feeling particularly irritated by the sort of nonsense that you and others write in places such as this, I’ll get on a high horse to give you something approaching a real justification for throwing your mixture of sand and pebbles at me:

    I suggest that you keep your uninformed opinions to yourself unless you are really happy to be seen by all and sundry as a fool.
    I suggest that you revise your understanding of the language, its use and its spelling, not to mention logic and the structure of argument before you engage with other adults in debate.
    I suggest that you don’t take me on in an arena such as this because you are just not up to it.

    There — now you have some solid, opinionated (though none-the-less, true) statements to attack.

    “…there policies… should be “…their policies…”

  44. Dan Rowden

    It could just be me, but what’s with this new fad of saying “bias” when “biased” should be used? I’m seeing it everywhere. It’s almost as prevalent as “conscious” when “conscience” is meant. Maybe it is just me.

  45. Kaye Lee

    I hate the barking dog syndrome. The one I have noticed is how many people, when being interviewed, start their answer with “look…”. Once noticed, it’s now driving me bonkers.

  46. mikisdad

    Well that was a new one for me – strange, given that I’ve trained dogs on and off for around 40 years. It was fascinating to discover the existence of an organisation devoted to this: I am a bit worried, though, about how many symptoms I have…

  47. Pam

    Hey Tony,i will live in the rented luxury house for 12mnths no problem,just so it doesnt sit empty,like your head

  48. Casablanca

    Kaye, thanks for another well researched, clearly written and topical piece. We now know that it cost $65,000 to break the lease on the Canberra residence. See ‘Tony Abbott’s expensive humility’:

    Your article commences with the fact that Abbott is only the second Prime Minister to make Kirribilli House in Sydney his prime residence. Paula Fairbairn (April 4, 2014 • 11:39 am) comments that ‘In Canada and the United States the seat of government is placed outside the major cities and away from business influences’ and that ‘Canberra seems to be the only attempt at this practice in Australia’.

    The question of the location of the Federal Capital was thrashed out at a premiers’ conference in Melbourne in January 1899. The colonies agreed to the resolution put forward by NSW Premier George Reid to have the federal capital in NSW. The concession came only at a price: it must be outside a radius of 100 miles (160km) from Sydney.

    The Constitution said that the Parliament must choose a site at least one hundred miles (160km) from Sydney and that the Parliament would sit in Melbourne until a new parliament house was built in the new capital. The selection of a site took until 1 January 1911 – exactly a decade after Federation – the Federal Capital Territory of 910 square miles (2 356 square kilometres) came into existence after legislation was passed by both the Commonwealth and New South Wales Parliaments.

    King O’Malley, a member of the first federal parliament was a strong advocate for a location near the Snowy Mountains area of southern NSW as he proclaimed his belief that ‘cold climates have produced the greatest geniuses’. Take a bow Canberrans!

    Paolo Soprani raises another interesting question of how much space the PM has at the Police Academy. The only picture that I have seen was of a small room with a camp bed. More recently there was mention of a suite of rooms where Margie can also stay when she is in Canberra.

    Kirribilli House was acquired by the Commonwealth Government in 1920 and was used by staff of the Governor-General until 1930. It was then leased out to various tenants until 1956 when it was
    set aside for overseas guests of the Commonwealth and for occasional use by the Prime Minister.

    Ever since Howard made Kirribilli his place of residence I have wondered why there were no objections from the other States. After all, it was an argument hard fought in the late 1890s that Sydney should not be the seat of Federal power.

    The UK Prime Minister has Chequers as a bolt hole, the Canadian PM has Harrington Lake and the US President has Camp David. I had always regarded Kirribilli House as being a place for our PMs to get away to for a bit of a break. The Lodge in Canberra is the official residence. We just need a PM with the courage to build a more appropriate residence at the reserved site on Lake Burley Griffin.

  49. Fed up

    I (wonder if Abbott pockets the difference, he pays, couch surfing at the academy?

  50. Kaye Lee


    Interesting history and thanks for the update on the house. I found this part interesting

    “Before the election, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet offered both the opposition leader at the time, Mr Abbott, and then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the opportunity to inspect the Canberra home where they would be living as Prime Minister. Both men declined the offer to inspect the property.”

    In other words he was told about the rental place before the lease was signed but couldn’t be stuffed going to have a look at it. THEN he decides no I don’t want it so we paid about 3 months rent and then to break the lease – all up about $100,000 for nothing. Add that to the cost of flights and the $120,000 he has spent so far on Kirribilli House. This is going to be one very expensive PM.

  51. Helen Jennings

    In reply to Kay’s article – In the Tristan da Cunha group of islands there is the ideal place to have the prime miser reside – Gough Island! – population -not many. How appropriate. I find myself resorting to childish vitriolic diatribe whenever pm and the lnp are the topic of conversation. I’m a labour voter and always have been and have been able to remain opened minded enough to listen to other opinions and agree to disagree. However I cannot remain fair and open minded any longer, my mind is closed.
    Having just read about the financial demands and the sense of entitlement Australia’s moronic head of country is displaying, I have no room for debate. I am embarrassed and ashamed to read international commentary about my country and more than angry when I hear of the ‘pig at the trough syndrome’ that is rampant in the lnp. This syndrome is a human weakness and has raised it’s head throughout all political parties, but the issue for me is that unlike any other leader in the 62 years I;ve been around, the pm thrives on the toil of the working poor while destroying our home grown industries, out sourcing internationally, bleating about how he is fixing what the previous labour government broke. – and caring more about his image (can’t be repaired) than the future of this country.
    I watched a video clip of pm condescendingly begin to address a group of 16 year old students. He was inane, oafish and reduced to silence by this group of articulate, intelligent and informed young people. He was challenged and this little Rhodes scholar could not meet the challenge. Thank goodness these kids represent the future of our country and the likes of the current style of governing will hopefully be in decline.

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