#Battlerort: Your guide to how Abbott charged taxpayers for his book tour

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By Chris Smith, Citizen Journalist
12 July 2013

The Parliamentary Entitlements rules governing Abbott’s expenses claims

There are several types of parliamentary entitlements involved in the #Battlerort story.

The initial letter to Tony Abbott outlined three of these entitlements.

The first, travel at Government expense, was at the time authorised under clause 2.1 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2006/18. At the time Tony Abbott was a Shadow Minister, so he was entitled to the entitlements that a Shadow Minister and normal Member would receive.

Clause 2.1 of the Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2006/18 allowed Senators and Members to access commercial transport such as flights, when travelling anywhere within Australia (excluding the external territories).

This travel was only allowed when travelling on parliamentary, electorate, or official business, and under very limited circumstances of party business.

Parliamentary and electorate business are not defined by the Remuneration Tribunal Determination, but ‘official business’ has a very specific definition according to the Determination.
‘Official’ business was defined as attendance at properly constituted meetings of a Government advisory committee or task force that the Senator or Member was a member of, or to attend a function as a representative of a Minister or the Speaker of the House of Representatives or President of the Senate.

The second entitlement mentioned in the letter is for car transport, including use of Comcars and taxis, and was provided under clause 3.1 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2006/18.
This entitlement can be accessed for parliamentary business, but only in four specific circumstances. These are when travelling between their home, electorate office or place of business, and the nearest airport or railway station, when in Canberra or 30 km from Parliament House, when travelling between capital cities and regional centres (except the city where they live or have an electorate office), and when travelling on parliamentary committee business.

The car transport entitlement can also be used for official business, which has the same definition as for commercial transport.

The third entitlement mentioned is travelling allowance, which was provided under Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2009/11. Under clause 2.25, as a Shadow Minister Tony Abbott would have been entitled to up to 55 nights of travelling allowance when travelling in the performance of duties or functions relating to the office of the Shadow Minister.

Travelling allowance allows Members to claim reimbursement for the cost of staying overnight in a place outside their home city. They can claim for either commercial accommodation, or private accommodation. The amount for private accommodation is about a third of the amount for commercial accommodation.

According to the Department of Finance letter, Tony Abbott only claimed a single night of travelling allowance, which was in relation to his portfolio responsibilities, according to Peta Credlin’s letter.

It’s important to note there is a difference between the first two entitlements and the third entitlement.

The Senators and Members Entitlements Handbook outlines the different ways in which a Member is responsible for accountability of their entitlements.

For travelling allowance the money is paid as a reimbursement. That is, the Member has to have stayed overnight and be able to provide proof of having stayed in a commercial accommodation. There is a form that Senators and Members have to fill out to claim this.

For commercial travel the process is different. The Senators and Members Entitlements Handbook includes a section explaining booking commercial travel.

A travel service provider is contracted by Ministerial and Parliamentary Services to arrange commercial travel. There is no form to sign or certify. The commercial travel would therefore be paid by the government up front, rather than reimburse the Senator or Member.

The Handbook also says, “If a Senator or Member books private travel through the contracted travel service provider, either as part of a trip which includes travel under entitlement, or as a separate trip, the cost of the Senator or Member’s private travel should be paid at the time of booking.”

The car transport entitlement that Tony Abbott used is paid similarly to the commercial travel entitlement. A page of the Ministerial and Parliamentary Services site explains that Comcar services are charged at an hourly rate, but the charge is met directly by the Department of Finance and Deregulation, ie the Member does not have to pay anything.

So how then do Senators and Members account for their commercial travel and Comcar expenses? According to the Handbook Senators and Members are required to certify every six months that their use of entitlements was in accordance with the rules.

The Handbook also says, “With effect from July 2011, the monthly management report no longer included a certification page for completion by Senators and Members.”

This suggests that prior to 2011 Senators and Members had to certify every month that their use of entitlements were within the rules. In other words at the end of August 2009 Tony Abbott would have been required to personally sign a page stating that his use of car transport and commercial transport for that month had been according to the rules.

Read More:

Twitter’s #Battlerort questions for @TonyAbbottMHR

Abbott’s #Battlerort lines collapse under @bkjabour questioning

EXCLUSIVE: Abbott forced to repay $9,400 he charged taxpayers to promote his book

Comments


  1. Probably Brandis will be the one who contacted the AFP.


  2. Who can refer a matter to the AFP??? Me ? Whose reference will they act upon???


  3. Abbott needs to face music on this he was responsible for his actions and he cant blame others in his office at first he denied it and called it a labor beat up when caught he paid it back but not the total amount he was requested to pay in full this has been found out i wonder if they need to look at his other trips as he always flying around election preaching


  4. President Truman had a sign on his desk in the Oval Office which said “The Buck Stops Here”

    http://andyvance.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/truman_buck_stops.jpg

    Tony Abbott should have a sign on his desk inscribed with “the Buck Stops Anywhere But Here”


  5. I’m up for referring this matter to the AFP.

    As a private individual.

    Just direct me there.

  6. Anomander says:

    Tony’s sign would say:

    Never heard of any buck.

    The buck never happened.

    The only bucks I know about are crap.

    This is a Labor smear trying to link me to that buck.

    I’m advised it was someone else’s buck and it was just passing through.

    I wasn’t even aware that the buck had actually come to a halt, I was told it’s wheels were still rolling

    Mal and Pyney were aware of the buck but they didn’t tell me about it until afterwards

    No, the fax outlining the buck’s itinerary never reached my office.

    My staff may did received that fax but I couldn’t have seen it because I was performing charity bike stunts at the time.

    Yes it looks like my signature on the bottom with the time and date stamp but I didn’t sign it.

    Now I recall, the buck did stop in for a cup of coffee, but it was only a social visit – no publishing business was discussed.

    One of my staff must have made a mistake with the diary. Have I mentioned boats lately?

    Yes, the buck did later accompany me to that book launch and we had lunch with Cardinal Pell, who has always been a fan of the buck.

    Yes, I am aware of the Parliamentary Entitlements – I have been in parliament for over 19 years I’ll have you know!

    I told you, the money has been repaid, it was clearly a mistake by everyone else when I signed that declaration.

    You know you shouldn’t believe all signed declarations unless they are carefully scripted.

    No. I don’t recall who repaid the money, but the buck was happy when it left.

    George has already spoken to the AFP and told them not to worry about this buck – it’s fine. Besides all their resources are tied-up in the Slipper case, they wouldn’t have time.

    No, no, no. The buck was never our idea, and was being too demanding. We’ve decided that the current buck is simply too expensive and that a small change version would suit our needs better

    I told the buck this and it stormed-out. I haven’t seen it since.

    Well… OK. I did cross paths with the buck at that IPA dinner where it was seated at Gina’s table but we didn’t talk about the book at all, it was strictly a work-related function.

    Look. I’m too busy for this. I have three publicity stunts to attend today alone. Time to move on.

    Where were we? Oh yes… boats!


  7. Mr Abbott’s pollie ride, admirable as it is in the role of charity fundraising, raises a few questions vis a vis Mr Abbott’s involvement.
    While pedalling their ‘donated’ bicycles, presumably, the ‘donated’ lycra ‘team Abbott’ oufits surely included various ‘donated’ bodyguards and ‘donated’ logistics of the AFP etc. He wasn’t pedalling off with a few of mates from the pub without a considerable backup team – He is Leader of the Opposition fer chrissakes.
    Fortunately, the Government seemed happy to expend ‘donated’ taxpayers money on Mr Abbott’s wellbeing in the pursuit of philanthropy.
    It makes you wonder how much Mr Abbott threw into the hat and ‘donated’ himself.


  8. Why are we so focussing on a Loser who could not organise a Chook Raffle in a brown paper bag in a pub, let along be trusted with the funds?
    Surely the real story is with the Machine that is pushing his Barrow. Find the REAL story behind the Side Show and you will get the juice on who is constructing, organising and finally , what they are hoping to achieve and why.
    Like Dubya, Abbott is a twit who if they get him into the Office of Prime Minister, will do exactly to Australia what they required to be done in the USA for the RWNJ benefit. Sign the papers to change laws critical to ensuring their wellbeing and fortunes.
    Abbott is a Court Jester to distract attention and to do as he is told. A Puppet.

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