Politics

Taxpayers Paid $5,000 For The PM And Treasurer To Attend A Murdoch Christmas Party

In just under 14 hours, the pair billed us $4,736 in flights alone.

On the 5th of December last year, while bushfire smoke blanketed the city of Sydney, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg charged taxpayers $5,000 to attend Lachlan Murdoch’s — heir of the News Corp empire — Christmas party in his harbourside mansion.

According to The Guardian, the pair flew on the Prime Minister’s private jet, leaving Canberra for Sydney after finishing up their parliamentary duties at 6pm, and returning before 9am the next morning. At the time, their attendance of the party while the country was facing a national disaster was heavily criticised but the cost to the taxpayer had not yet been revealed.

The jet to Sydney alone cost $2,153.

On the way there, the pair were also joined by other government ministers — Peter Dutton of “if you try to seek asylum here, I’ll personally make you regret it” fame, and Stuart Robert, AKA the man who said “you must spend hours proving your disability to me so you can get disability support payments”. Robert did not attend the party, but Dutton has refused to say whether he did or not.

It cost a further $2,583 for Morrison, Frydenberg, and Dutton to fly back to Canberra the next morning. While in Sydney, Frydenberg also charged taxpayers for the use of Comcars, as well as a further $486 to fly home to Melbourne. Dutton flew home to Brisbane at a cost of $831.

The trip to and from Sydney alone — which lasted less than 14 hours — cost $4,736. The other additional known costs add up to $6,053.

During that same time, firefighters risking their lives in the deadliest bushfires this country has ever faced, were forced to crowdfund for personal protective equipment due to funding cuts.

While politicians have travel allowances to conduct their duties, it is obvious this trip — for the PM and Treasurer at least — had nothing to do with government business. There are rules which govern this sort of thing, and they clearly state the private jet should be used primarily for the purpose of conducting parliamentary business and the expense associated must represent value for money.

When Malcolm Turnbull was PM, he introduced new rules about how politicians should use their allowances. He introduced the “pub test” which means MPs must consider how the public would react to their spending, and they should be prepared to publicly justify their choices.

“We should be as careful and as accountable with taxpayers’ money as we possibly can be.”

Recently, former Finance Minister Mathias Cormann had been given a private jet costing taxpayers $4,300 per hour. Yes, PER HOUR. All so he could travel around Europe trying to get a job at the OECD. Imagine someone funding your job-hunting experience with that kind of cash, when all some people get is a diminishing sum of JobSeeker.

Interestingly that did not lead to as much outrage as that time Bronwyn Bishop spent $5,000 on a helicopter trip and had to resign. Do we just expect this and accept this from politicians now? I guess we’ll see how the PM and Treasurer fare through this newest reveal.