How will Media, Finance and AFP handle the evidence that the PM is a cheat?

Margo Kingston

Margo Kingston

Co-publisher & editor-in-chief at No Fibs

Margo Kingston is an Australian journalist, author, and commentator. She is best known for her work at The Sydney Morning Herald and her weblog, Webdiary. Since 2012, Kingston has been a citizen journalist, reporting and commenting on Australian politics via Twitter and No Fibs.

Margo Kingston

@margokingston1

Recovered journalist uncovered in 2013. #frightbat Queen in 2014.

Our Paper’s page 1 lead: Twitter / DailyMirror: Chilling images show how Israe… http://t.co/mmmVxOKGQ2, see more http://t.co/SAXpY4iVTu – 7 hours ago

Margo Kingston

Peter Slipper and Tony Abbott in Parliament in 2009. - News.com.au

Peter Slipper and Tony Abbott in Parliament in 2009. – News.com.au

By Margo Kingston,

8 October, 2013

It looks like the Prime Minister is a serial cheat. It’s hard to imagine a bigger test of the integrity and fairness of our democratic institutions than that. Will the press gallery get forensic and press for answers from the PM and action from the authorities? Will the AFP investigate? Will the Finance Department audit his enormous expenses claims while in opposition to search for more rorting?

The AFP chose to prosecute Peter Slipper for falsely claiming less than $1,000 for an alleged private tour of wineries. It has now been revealed that Tony Abbott falsely claimed more than $1600 to attend the wedding of his friend Sophie Mirabella and the wedding of his then friend Peter Slipper. There is no ambiguity here – the claims were outside entitlement. Friends’ weddings are clearly private events, not ‘parliamentary, electorate, or official business’.

These post-election revelations follow my scoop before the election that he had wrongly claimed $9,400 to go on tour to promote his Battlelines book . When the issue was first raised, by Glenn Milne, Abbott insisted his claims were correct.  “All travel undertaken by Mr Abbott has been within the entitlement,” his spokesman said. But when the Finance Department followed up the matter, his chief of staff Peta Credlin said the claims were made by a junior staffer who had “inadvertently booked for official travel rather than private” – Abbott reimbursed $6255.49.

But she said nothing about Abbott’s use of Com Cars for his book promotion tour, and a Finance audit forced the repayment of another $3,141.93. Com Cars can be used only for official or parliamentary business, and Mr Abbott, who used the cars, was personally aware of the circumstances and would have had to personally certify that they were so used. 

I therefore lodged an FOI for the paperwork on the book tour claims. The Finance Department recently detailed the relevant documents, and said they could not release them until an affected third party, clearly Mr Abbott, was given the opportunity to dispute their release.

Surely the time has come, given Mr Abbott’s serial mis-claiming, for Finance to audit the enormous expenses claimed by Mr Abbott in Opposition, Rules for official business are loose, but serious questions have been raised about the propriety of his claims to compete in the 2012 Coffs Coast cycle challenge and today about his claims on taxpayers to participate in a 2012 Port Macquarie Ironman event.

So where does this leave the AFP?

When the AFP charged Peter Slipper, I broke the story that he had been treated differently than other MPs. Under the Minchin Protocol, if questions are raised about the propriety of an expenses claim, as they were for the book promotion expenses, Finance does not refer the matter to police if the MP concerned pays the money back. So when questions were raised about Slipper’s winery tour, he offered to repay.

It took a while to sort out, but I discovered that Finance had no knowledge of the Slipper allegations before the matter was referred to the AFP by an unknown informant. Because of this, the Minchin Protocol did not apply.

So who was this informant, and how did he or she obtain information about Slipper’s 2010 winery tour?

On 10 July I sought the information by FOI. The AFP had 30 days to process it, but asked for a very long extension to Sunday 8 September, the day after the election. I responded that the request was very narrow, and should be able to be done quickly. The AFP took the matter to the Australian Information Commissioner, who granted a shorter extension to 29 August:

“The grounds on which the extension was granted is that the matter is considered complex as it relates to current court proceedings involving a Member of Parliament and contains highly sensitive material.  This will also involve a briefing to the Minister and notification to AFP National Media. This is also the first extension that has been requested on this matter.

“The AFP have provided our office with a timeline of how they plan to utilise the 20 day extension.”

But on 22 August, the AFP insisted on another month’s extension from August 29 to to September 28,  because the affected third party had 30 days to object. I was miffed that it had not initiated that consultation much earlier, but the AIC said there was nothing it could do about it.

Since September 28 was a Saturday and the next Monday was a public holiday, the due date for a decision was October 1. The AFP did not meet that deadline either. My query at its failure to meet its own deadline was met with silence.

What to do? I contacted the AIC again, and was told that the AFP conduct amounted to a ‘deemed refusal‘ of my request, and that I could seek a review by them. I did this on 1 October.

On October 3 the AIC advised that their review would take a long time due to pressure of work, but that:

“I have spoken to the Australian Federal Police this morning and understand that a decision will be issued shortly.”

Instead, the AFP’s silence has continued until the perfect storm of Tony Abbott’s wedding claims.

Let’s be clear here. The Minchin Protocol determines only what the Finance Department does when it becomes aware of false claims – it’s a carrot and stick to get quick repayment on the threat of referral to police. The Slipper prosecution shows that anyone can refer such claims to the AFP, and the AFP can act on them regardless of repayments or offers to repay.

I understand that several people have referred the Abbott book tour claims and wedding claims to the AFP.

Will the AFP investigate? If not, why not? What is the difference between Slipper’s allegedly false claims on taxpayers and those of Abbott?

In my opinion, the press gallery failed to hold Abbott to account on his book claims, a big failure considering he put himself up as a person worthy to lead this nation. Only one reporter Bridie Jabour, a person not in the press gallery, pressed him to explain. His non-answers to her questions raised more questions, but the press gallery did not pursue them.

They have another chance with the wedding claims. We need to know exactly what expenses he claimed, and how he justified them to the Finance Department. Mr Abbott is in the dock for persistently receiving taxpayers money for private purposes, and he has so far failed, on his book tour and his weddings, to give any explanation that passes the laugh test.

Today I lodged an FOI request to the Finance Department to obtain the paperwork for his wedding claims and documents referring to his recent communications with Finance on the matter.

The Reith Telecard fraud back in 2000 showed how power can subvert justice – with the AFP, Finance and the DPP under extreme pressure (see Tracing the Telecard affair and More on the Reith Telecard affair and A Bugg in the farce of the Reith Telecard affair and The great Telecard cover-up.

Will it happen again?

Footnote: I was chief of staff in the Canberra bureau of the Sydney Morning Herald when the Reith scandal broke, and had just started Webdiary. If you follow the links you will see how the hard copy paper and Webdiary worked together to investigate the story. Webdiary allowed us to publish our questions to the major players and set out the contradictions and inconsistencies in the Government’s story. It let readers in on the process of trying to get the truth, and allowed them to contribute to the investigation process. Our work was crucial in un-peeling the onion and forcing the players to come out of hiding. Let’s hope the mainstream media uses its online capacity to do the same thing now. It’s about time!

 

                            Mr Abbott’s statements so far on his wedding claims

 There are three statements by Mr Abbott so far. Amazing, isn’t it, how he gets away with not addressing the actual issues. Can the media, police and administrative arms of our democracy make him accountable?

Statement to Herald Sun on Mirabella wedding expenses October 3

Mr Abbott’s spokesman James Boyce said the PM had “utilised entitlements”.

“When the matter was brought to his attention, he immediately sought advice from the Department of Finance. The advice received said it was not possible to determine if the travel was within entitlement. For the avoidance of any doubt, Mr Abbott has repaid all costs associated with this travel totalling $1,094.64 and the matter is resolved.”

Press conference in Bali, 7 October

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, why do Coalition members think it’s ok to use taxpayer funds to attend weddings and are you confident that the wedding of Sophie Mirabella was the only one that you used taxpayer funds to attend?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’ll deal with that question in a sec but are there any further APEC-related questions? We’ll deal with that subject and then we’ll go onto general subjects. Karen?

Now, Alex, I’m going to go to your question because that might be the end, if you don’t mind, because I’ve got more things I need to attend to as part of APEC.

Look, when the controversy arose after the Michael Smith wedding, I remembered that some seven years ago, I’d been to a couple of weddings and so I went back and I checked. I was advised – because I sought advice on this – that the entitlement was unclear and so, in order to avoid doubt, I paid the relevant money back and, look, that’s what people should do: they should act within entitlements, they should err on the side of caution and if there is any doubt, they should act immediately to clear the matter up. That’s exactly what I have done.

QUESTION:

But why would you claim it in the first place, Prime Minister, to go to a wedding?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I was the Leader of the House of Representatives and the Leader of the House of Representatives has certain representational roles and I believed it was within entitlements.  After the Michael Smith matter, I decided that I should check. I was advised that the matter was unclear and, in order to put the thing beyond doubt, the money was repaid. Thank you (ends press conference).

Transcript of Tony Abbott PRESS CONFERENCE, BALI concerning travel expenses

Tuesday, 8 October 2013
Indonesia

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott did you claim travel entitlements to attend an Ironman event in 2011 and if so will you pay it back?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’ll deal with non-APEC issues in a minute. Are there APEC issues and we’ll deal with them now?

QUESTION:

Prime Minister I think we need to deal with the entitlements. I know you’ve got an appointment and we’ve got some questions.

PRIME MINISTER:

Sure. Ok, well look, I think I’ve been asked about Ironman. Look, I believe that all of my claims have been within entitlement and let’s not forget that Port Macquarie was a marginal seat effectively and I want to assure you that I don’t go to marginal seats simply for sporting events although the sporting event in question was a community event. I think you’ll find that there were quite a few other community events involved in those visits.

Now, on the question of Pollie Pedal, I’m not sure whether anyone here has been on a Pollie Pedal with me, certainly there are quite a few journalists who normally do accompany me on Pollie Pedal and as – Tim Sweeney, thank you Tim for volunteering! Look, Pollie Pedal is a very intense engagement with the community. I mean, the great thing about Pollie Pedal is that it takes me to towns and communities, sometimes hamlets, that very rarely see a politician. I suspect that most of the places that I visited on this year’s Pollie Pedal would not have seen a politician other than their local Member in decades, let alone a Leader of the Opposition. I will do Pollie Pedal next year as Prime Minister. I am looking forward to it very much. It is a perfectly legitimate thing for a Member of Parliament to do and, yes, to the extent that it involves being away from home, I will claim travel allowance.

QUESTION:

Kevin Andrews was on that Pollie Pedal with you on a number of occasions and hasn’t claimed, so is it possible that you have been cavalier with your travel expenses?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, it’s not. It is absolutely not possible. Look, every Member of Parliament makes a judgment about his own role in these events and I lead the Pollie Pedal. I attend numerous community events as part of the Pollie Pedal. Not all of my colleagues do – not all of my colleagues do. Now, sometimes they do, but they certainly don’t always and Kevin may well have made a judgment that he was insufficiently involved in the community events associated not to claim. As I said, I invite every one of you to go back to look at the programme for this Pollie Pedal, previous Pollie Pedals and ask yourself the question, is this a frolic or is this a very serious act of community engagement? And I think you would have to conclude if you are fair dinkum that this is a very serious act of community engagement.

QUESTION:

You pursued Peter Slipper very vigorously on the issue of misuse of taxpayer funds. Is it a bit hypocritical of you to use taxpayer funds yourself to attend this wedding?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, again, I was in Queensland for Consilium. Some of you may actually have been to Consilium in one or other capacity. It is an important annual event. I have been to quite a number of Consilium events. Usually, I make a speech at Consilium and so I attended his wedding on the way back from Consilium. Now, when attendance at weddings became an issue I looked again and the TA associated with the Slipper wedding – as opposed to the trip to Consilium – I thought, to avoid doubt, I should repay and I have done that.

Now, I’ll take one more question on this. Ok, Alex.

QUESTION:

Given that you have paid the money back, surely you concede that this area needs to be reformed. Do you support the Greens’ call for integrity?

PRIME MINISTER:

Fair question, Alex. Very fair question. Look, whenever entitlements become an issue there are calls for change. It doesn’t matter what the rules are, there is always going to be an argument at the margins. The point I make is that people should be careful and cautious when they claim entitlement. If there is any doubt, they should resolve the doubt in favour of the taxpayer and that is exactly what I have done.

Now, there is one final point I want to make on another subject before I go to meet Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. As you might remember during the election campaign, I went to the Cloudbreak mine in Western Australia with Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest. There I announced that we would be reviewing Indigenous employment programmes and that Andrew Forrest would lead that review on behalf of the Government. I am pleased to say that that has now been confirmed and finalised, Andrew Forrest will be leading a review of Indigenous employment programmes. I think this is very important. I want to congratulate all of the Australian businesses that have been involved in the Australian Employment Covenant. I think this does offer a new beginning to Indigenous people who want to have a serious career in the private sector and I want to thank Andrew Forrest for the commitment that he has shown.

[ends]

Comments

  1. Kim Wright says:

    Keep on it Margo, well done. Its corruption thats what it is.

    • John Kelly says:

      Is this a good time to call for the PM’s resignation? I would have thought so.


      • I would have thought so, particularly as Liesalot was trying to force Gillard to resign over AWU BEFORE she was an MP. But despite all their mud slinging, they still can’t find anyone credible to lay a glove on her.

        Liesalot is another matter. It’s clear that he is an embezzler just like the execrable Phonecard Retih and it appears that the Liars front bench has been robbing the taxpayer blind for years, a practice that the rodent was more than a little partial to.

  2. joy cooper says:

    Thank you Margo. Abbott’s lame excuses make me shake my head in bewilderment. This is the man who is now our PM. Absolutely stupefying.

    As for the way you have been treated by the AFP, it is appalling. Imagine how an ordinary citizen would be treated if they give you such a run around. Have they forgotten they work for, & are employed by, the people of Australia. They aren’t there to provide cover for politicians.


    • You should have complained to the Commonwealth Ombudsman under the Complaints Act about the failure of the AFP to act in a timely fashion. I doubt that you would have got anywhere but it was within your right to do so.


    • Unfortunately, I think the AFP is thoroughly politicised & Finance has been intimidated by the thought of a Liars govt coming to power & exacting revenge.

      I believe that this became worse under the Rodent government & has become exponentially worse since Liesalot became LOTO.

      Thanks for your dogged persistence Margo; you have once again shown what an investigative journalism is about.


  3. This is a can of worms that few MPs want opened. It is a common practice for MP’s staff to organise a parly business etc ‘event’ that coincides with a personal event. For instance if an MP was to attend a mate’s wedding, in let’s say Byron Bay, a few key marginal seat visits, meetings with key business leaders or constituents would be organised to ensure visibility in a work sense if challenged about wedding attendance at tax payers expense.


    • Exactly, Maree.

      Thanks, Margo. Quite a bit of head/brick wall for you, and no doubt much more to come for all of us while this government persists.


    • It’s what business people do to claim on their taxes. That way they can write off most entertainment.


    • I don’t have a problem with that sort of claim as long as they genuinely do meet with business leaders, community leaders etc, but to claim expenses for a social event such as a friend’s or colleague’s wedding is clearly incorrect.

      I think the Liars imagined that their serial rorting would have been successfully made to disappear by now. But even though it is persisting, they’re following the Rodent’s example of ignoring it until the msm move on and the problem disappears.

      This is where Labor & the Greens must keep stoking the fire. It doesn’t matter if the media whores like Dolt etc & the barrackers squeal, they’ll never admit that their idols have misbehaved.

      So we must keep applying the pressure.


  4. Evidently the Coalition only regard it as corruption when others do such things. What a bunch of hypocrites, not only crucifying Peter Slipper but doing so while their snouts were buried deep in the trough.

  5. Ruth Lipscombe Innisfail Qld says:

    Just as I was drowning in despondency because I thought no credible person was going to question the Lycra Loonie about his transgressions with entitlements,the wonderful Margo pops up again.
    Hurrah!


  6. I used to work for a senator for the democrats, not one of them ever had to pay back one cent to my knowledge because the rules were very clear, It is it was related to parliamentary work it was not claimable, without exceptions.

    The office of the Special Minister of State in the 1980′s had offices in every state who checked, verified and approved all travel, housing interstate and cars for MP’s of all stripes and staff who travelled with them.

    What happened after Howard took over that makes these Liberal hacks believe that riding in charity events should be charged to the taxpayers.

    When did a private wedding have anything to do with parliament and exactly how much time did Abbott spend in his electorate doing anything at all.


    • Thanks for that history Marilyn. Mitt Romney famously tried to put the culture of complaint & entitlement among low income people on the agenda and got outed, by the Huff post I think, 2012. What we’ve known all our lives is that it’s conservative politicians of ALL stripes who invented entitlement, beginning with the Rotten Boroughs of Nineteenth C England.. Mother Jones I think it was got that video.
      Oh us greedy grasping battlers and dole bludgers! Got no shame! At least we can write. No fibs


    • Marilyn, that was because the Dems had that rare commodity in politics & business these days-integrity. I believe the Greens also regard being able to claim expenses as a privilege, not an opportunity to help themselves to the piggy bank.

      It also appears that although Labor MPs have incorrectly claimed expenses in the past, they have not made a profession of rorting.


  7. Thank you Margo. As a mere constituent I feel pretty helpless with regards to keeping Tony and his motley crew accountable. I despair of any journalist actually researching and following up questionable incidents…and then there is you!


  8. For the last week my husband has been asking: “When are the media going make something of this Abbott expenses thing?” and I’ve just get saying: “Don’t worry, Margo Kingston will tell us all about it, just wait …” thanks Margo, welcome back!

  9. AussieAce_ says:

    Peter Slipper and Geoff Shaw (ex Vic Liberal) get charged for misuse of public monies/vehicles, yet Abbott and his mates don’t?


  10. You sure need tenacity for this work Margo! The response (lack-of) from AFP instills fear, loathing and conspiracy theories.


  11. Apparently Philip Ruddock has decided NOT to repay his travel costs for attending Peter Slipper’s wedding. I expect the AFP to take Mr Ruddock to court, just as they have done with Peter Slipper. I also expect an AFP forensic examination of Mr Ruddock’s expense claims (as was done with Mr Slipper) to see how many other dubious claims have been made by Mr Ruddock over the course of his long parliamentary career. If Mr Ruddock deems attending a private wedding appropriate, what else has he claimed for?

    There was an enormous scandal in the UK a few years ago regarding parliamentarians claiming expenses. More than a few careers were wrecked. It is deeply ironic that Peter Slipper’s wedding may be the catalyst for the rorting being exposed.

    Can you FOI Bronwyn Bishop’s expenses to see if she also claimed for the Slipper and Mirabella weddings? After all, the new Speaker should be above reproach – didn’t Tony Abbott say that in Parliament?


    • Perhaps we should bill Ruddock, Liesalot, Brandis, Joyce and other LNP rorters on behalf of the taxpayers of Australia whom they have defrauded.

      Dear LNP Rorters

      Give us back our money

      Signed: The Taxpayers of Australia (who pay your substantial salaries)

    • Glenda Rowntree says:

      It would be poetic justice if the deplorable treatment of Peter Slipper by Abbott and his cohorts, actually brought the Abbott Gov’t down, and prompted another election. We can only hope and pray!
      All thinking people new this man (Abbott) was a fraud and never would be PM material!


  12. Julia Gillard defended “Gold Cards” for former Ministers so that people like Barry Jones could attend and to address scientific gatherings and thereby continue to make contribution to the Australian community. John Howards travel claims since he left office should be examined to see if they meet this level of benefit or are simply taking his wife on junkets at taxpayer expense.

  13. Russell Sparks says:

    Good work Margo. Peter Andren would be proud! What a loss he is. Don’t let them get you down……stay with it.


  14. Keep plugging Margo. I was an avid lurker & commenter at WebDiary and was sad when it ceased, but it led me to other blogs.

    We have to keep these issues in the public eye and as a constant irritant to politicians and others who think rorting the public purse is OK.

    After all, it’s not like these people aren’t well rewarded, unlike people on the dole existing on $35/day.

    If politicians want us to respect them, they have to b above reproach. Sadly, it seems that their only interest is in feathering their nests by rorting the public purse or by sucking up to big business.


  15. I expect Slipper’s lawyers will move for dismissal of all charges with an order for costs. If not lots of subpoenas for LNP trough dippers to attend for cross examination.

  16. armchair opinionator says:

    Was Peter Slipper given 30 days as an affected third party to defend his claims before any action was taken against him?


  17. The trivia is unleashed. Abbottoir will be submerged in trying to stop brush fires. Serves them right.

  18. Jill Storch says:

    Joe Hockey recently said the “the age of entitlement is over”…but I suppose that meant for everyone else, not pollies…


    • Love this quote Jill. He has to have that quoted to him every possible minute. Wonder if any of them will go on the talk fests like Q and A. I think there may be a mass retreat till they work out how to cope.

  19. tiredof thechatter says:

    The charter flights are also of interest. See an article in Independent Australia , Aug 14

  20. Alan - Gold Coast says:

    It would be interesting if Peter Slipper subpoenaed Tony Abbott, George Brandis and Phillip Ruddock to give evidence in his defence. Yes, his defence. Ask them on oath to explain the difference between their serial rorting and his “offence.” They would be bound to give answers to which they would be held accountable, unless they of course refused to answer on the basis it would incriminate themselves. More likley being held to account and having to answer questions accurately,under cross examination where they cannot hide, (or in Tony’s case RUN) might just give Slippers apparent “offence” some balance. A WIN WIN all around.


  21. Bloody brilliant, Margo! Well done on your tenacity. Peter Slipper was no angel, but the Libs knew it and kept re-endorsing him. Then they quickly wiped their hands of him, announced he was now the Labor Party’s problem, and used him as a missile against them. Everything about the hounding of Peter Slipper – the ComCar claims, the Ashby affair, Abbott’s carefully worded “I have no specific knowledge” disclaimer – smells and badly needs the disinfecting power of sunlight. Go girl!


  22. Perhaps the PM and the Catholic mafia could introduce the sale of “Indulgences” to pay for their own indulgences!


  23. Nice change of subject at the end re raising an indigenous issue….. trying to make himself look good amid the rorts.


  24. Brilliant work Margo…thank you so much for your work. But I think we have to realistic here. The ‘Tony Abbott Protection Society’ has been running for several years now and has several well off patrons and plenty of news paper newsrooms as PR desks at his disposal.

    My assessment is that this will treated as minor and largely ignored when they decide they’ve had enough fun from of him hiding from them. When he fronts these PR hucksters again it will die down. As in once access goes up…the amount of coverage of these matters will sadly dissipate.

    I for one intend to share FAR AND WIDE these clear breaches myself so no one need forget. Now let’s see if parliament does actually resume for more than a fortnight after the election writs are returned. That ought to be enough time for the ‘No Carbon Tax Bill’ train to DD elections-ville to be started in earnest. :P

  25. Betty Taylor says:

    Thanks Margo..keep it up. Abbott needs to be thoroughly investigated as does the entire Ashbygate


  26. Thanks Margo. Good stuff. I’d like to know how these bogus claims get through finance


    • It’s self-regulation. MPs certify claims in order, Finance accepts, only looks when allegation raised.


      • Just heard on ABC radio news that the AFP have received a number of complaints about expense claims by politicians. The spokesperson said they were NOT going to investigate and had referred the complaints to Finance. Yet they received an anonymous complaint about Slipper and have launched legal proceedings. What the hell is going on here?

        John


  27. I’d love to see a decent interviewer get him on TV and confront him with ALL his claims which I presume run to hundreds of pages and who knows how many 10′s if not hundreds of thousands of dollars then see him try to justify it.
    I worked for the public service for a while and the restrictions on claiming TA were comprehensive and strictly enforced.
    It doesn’t mean it was never rorted and anyone doing it had a pretty good chance of getting a knock on the door from the AFP.
    Given the level of scrutiny by various elements in the media and the conservative side of politics, if it had been widespread and endemic I’m pretty sure it would have come out years ago.
    It appears our pampered pooches have deliberately designed a TA system for themselves that has very loose terms and conditions. Apparently all you need is for a seat to be marginal and to conveniently have an annual Iron Man competition.
    Wonder how many of those hard hat, high vis vest visits attracted a TA claim as well?


  28. Go Margo! Gotta be Brandis who dobbed Slipper in to AFP and given his “special” relationship with them he is bound to be the one who is pulling their strings to hold up FOI.

    Really enjoyed listening to you on Late Night Live last week and your description of the “swarm” mechanism which sees msm swarm to a new story every day instead of following up, getting all the facts and the truth of the first one. First rule in the AMEAA Code of Ethics:

    “Respect for truth and the public’s right to information are fundamental principles of journalism”.

    Many journos could do with a reminder!

  29. G D Morris says:

    They should all be charged and if found guilty of criminal charges they will have to be thrown out of parliament because of their criminal records. New elections to be held in those seats. They have no principals.

  30. g2-5bba245eb6db01d36e28de6648a6336a says:

    Margo

    As of Monday, 8 July 2013 3:21 PM I reported Tony Abbott to the AFP for possible breaches to the entitlements code of conduct

    I have an email back from them confirming this request

    Is it possible for someone to contact me please as I understand it is illegal for a minister to repay an amount after they have been reported to the AFP

    Doug Steley

    silverimageATpowerup.com.au


    • Don’t know about the legal side of things but I would imagine that if your complaint doesn’t relate to the claims that have been repaid it’s probably not going to go anywhere.
      Given what happened to Slipper, I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of confidence in the system. There appear to be some protected species out there.


      • I think I meant to say “if your complaint relates to the claims that have been repaid, it will probably go nowhere.” Sorry.


    • Doug, did you report a specific incident of misuse?

    • Kim Wright says:

      Go gettum


  31. does anyone know how you can access what the various Pollies claimed back in 2006? The Dept of Finance site only goes back to 2008. I was wondering if, as so many pollies attended her wedding on business, Sophie could claim it was a business meeting and claim the cost of staging her wedding.


  32. I’ve been wondering. When Tony Abbott rides his bike he is usually covered in corporate logos. I assume these companies pay for the right to have their logo on his costume while he rides. Where does the money go? And doesn’t the sponsorship make his activities commercial rather than community orientated? Does Abbott himself profit from these sponsorships? Not sure how we find out but I am surprised no one has asked him yet!


    • I have thought the same thing. His favored corporate sponsor of late seems to be Amgen, the US pharmaceutical company (one of two major EPO manufacturers worldwide) closely associated with a certain Lance Armstrong and his associates. I also wonder whether the uniform comes with certain beneficial recommendations to say, oh, the PBS or the AIS, but then I have a suspicious mind – thankfully.


  33. The story I have heard from some on the right is that Slipper was referred to the AFP and is being investigated because he allegedly falsified cab charges. That, if true, is a deliberate fraudulent act and can in noway be misconstrued as an ambiguity in the understanding of the rules.

    Having read in your article that Abbott used a Comcar for his book promotion then that also cannot be misconstrued as an ambiguity. The rules for the use of Comcars is unambiguous, so Abbott has no excuse and should be referred to the AFP for investigation.


  34. tony now says repeatedly that he used government money for electioneering in a marginal seat. It should be liberal funding.
    Probably illegal to do what he did


  35. There is a meme circulating that shows some 26 events that Mr Abbott attended and claimed expenses for, these included numerous”charity” bike rides and iron man competitions as well as other events like V8 supercars, the AFL etc. I get it that sometimes attending these events is work, but they can’t all be work all of the time. Mr Abbott seems to think that if he turns up he’s working. Just because he enters a Iron Man Competition and has to shake hands with the public and make a bit of small talk, does not make it a work function. Just because the rules are ambiguous does not mean it is right, and that is pretty obvious to anyone. Most people would see that to say you are working while participating in some of these events is entirely unreasonable.
    These expense claims are an insult to all the good people who do real charity work in their own time and who pay their own way in participating. I think you will find these generous people don’t expect to be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses while doing charity/community/volunteer work and they do it with out the grandstanding and the shameless self promotion.
    Mr Abbott’s behavior is far from charitable.


  36. Attending a wedding of a colleague can hardly be described as ‘representation activities’. Did he attend the ceremony on behalf of the Libs (and if so why would the MPs need to be OFFICIALLY represented at a PRIVATE event?), or because his ‘friend’ Mirabella invited him?
    I concede that journos are entiltled to their opinions and should be free express them as such. The problem for me is that Oz journalists have consistently demonstrated a lack of professionalism pursuing evidence to inform the public. One thing is what your editor (or boss, or whoever signs your check) is pushing you to do and a different thing is the social (and moral) duty of journalists.
    I do wonder whether they actually believe they do a good job.
    Thanks Margo for a well documented piece.

  37. skywriter says:

    All of the above with bells. However, I draw attention to the well selected image of AAbbott and his sinister demeanor. One is reminded of a slithering predator.


  38. i said it before the election and i’m certainly now vindicated,ABBOTT WAS NEVER FIT TO BE OUR P.M. THEN AND IT’S NOW PROVEN NOT EVER A FIT ENOUGH PERSON TO LEAD AUSTRALIA.


  39. Well, its apparent that in politics, we sometimes dont get what we are obviously paying for,like honesty openess and integrity. Are we into month 2 of this shambolic disorganised corrupt government yet? The past 6 years of labor will recede into insignificance on the richter scale of scandal very quickly. “You can trust us, we’re ready” Indeed! The biggest misnomer in the parliament is the title of “the right honorouable”

  40. Josie Mc Pherson says:

    and this is the supposed “adults” back in charge of things? So glad that there are people out there who do not believe the Murdoch fluff and smoke and mirrors routine, and will dig for the truth – keep at it Margo


  41. Time bot parties stood up, and put in place all the Fels recommendations, including having to put it on the web, as soon as they make any claims,.

    It is not justifiable for either side to claim.


  42. I know a person from the Telecom era who was sentenced to 3 years in prison for a “shonky” TA claim and I am sure there are many who have been charged by Centrelink for various offences.

    If those Departments have clear-cut guidelines on entitlements plus corresponding penalties, why not the pollies too?

    Why also have the Main Stream Media just caught onto this and not several months ago when the information was freely available and being discussed on the blogosphere?

  43. Fels away says:

    Margo – I am so pleased to see you are back – We need your tenacity and enlightened thinking especially with this current lot.. Could the Fels recommendations be published again? Go

  44. diannaart says:

    Thanks Margot for all the work in putting this together.

    Reading and listening to Abbott’s explanations, all I see and hear is:

    “I am Tony Abbott, I am very important, places and events are improved if I am simply there, I do not expect others to understand how valuable I am, therefore, by claiming expenses a dollar value can be placed on my very being. Dollar values do not apply to unimportant people such as Peter Slipper. Surely this is clear to anyone?”


  45. Typical, especially when it comes to the Lying Nasty Party these days. People just don’t understand that the Political World is built around one true saying, “Do as we say, not as we do”.
    Doesn’t that clear up how the “Born to Rule” mentality works? Now you may understand why things are they way they are. No surprise really considering how many years it has been done ad nauseam.
    Now, let us all gather to scare their knickers off, in the fear of their emptying Bank Accounts, as that is all that matters to them. Money, after all, is what they all do it for. They live for it. Will cheat and lie for it. They will sell their souls for it.
    Stupid really, considering it really has no worth, except for the value we choose to let it have. It would be worthless if tomorrow everyone decided Cowrie Shells were the new currency. How about Tulips for those who like to go in historical circles.
    The current Coalition is a Joke on Steroids. Three more years of this. OMG!


  46. It’s hilarious that Richard Ackland of all people can be so seriously stupid as to cite the AFP presentation to the court over $900 as if it is a fact instead of an AFP presentation in light of years of exposure of AFP fit ups, lies and incompetence and Crikey can swallow Ackland’s story as fact.

    It is not a fact, it is a paranoid presentation to the courts to justify a $70,000 trial over $900..


  47. I don’t want to see Abbott riding a bike & pretending he’s ‘volunteering for charity’….that’s false because he earns a salary that covers him 7 days a week whether he’s in the office or sitting on a bike. Genuine people who volunteer do it without taking a cent for their own pockets! I can’t imagine the govt. having a clause for ‘paid charity leave’?

    Abbott does all these outside activities as ‘look at me – I’m Tony Abbott’ & it’s just for his own ego getting his name out there like a clothing company does for self promotion! We, the public do not want to pay Abbott for these ridiculous scams! How much wasted time has he put into going to the gym & training for events instead of actually putting in a hard day in the office? does he claim travel expenses to all these training sessions? sports clothes on the tax-payer as well? work is work – play is play!

    He’s not popular & never will be – people see through him & without Murdoch, he’d just the blabbering fool we saw in the Howard Govt. lying to the ABC, lying about meeting Pell and supporting a child sex offender so his old buddy didn’t have to face jail. OMG – get rid of this man please!


  48. I thought the TA was available for work related expenses, meetings, formal public events, policy development etc. All Abbott does is campaign for his personal gain. Why should taxpayers pay for that?

  49. Mr Everywhere says:

    Margo,Wonderful reading…this mob has more twists and turns than a bucket full of eels.Surely people are starting to see the real Tony.

    • Kim Wright says:

      Sadly only people that read sites like Margos. ANyone relying on the mainstream media isnt getting all this information


  50. One of the many unanswered questions that ought to alarm people who believe we live in a democratic country is why the serial misappropriation of tax payer money is only being revealed to the Australian electorate now? The appalling lack of scrutiny of Abbott and his mob before the election gives credence to the argument that Australia’s mainstream news media outlets, including the ABC, are undermining our democracy and in so doing are unworthy of their status in the public domain. Questions also need to be asked as to why the ALP failed to bring the LNP’s devious behaviour to the public’s attention. If it’s a case of the political class circling the wagons in unprincipled unity. Then the distrust often associated with self regulation is justified and adds weight to the call for a system of public oversight of travel and other entitlements allocated for those elected into public office.

  51. Joe Banks says:

    Great stuff, Margo. You’re a real professional. My first time on your site but I will continue to follow. Abbott and his mob clearly have a problem with the three categories of personal, party and political… Personal – self explanatory. Party – what the liberal party should fund. Political – what they are entitled to claim as a MP. Abbott can’t see the obvious difference between a personal jaunt, a campaign and a political obligation. Sorry! He can see the difference; he just chooses not to. Please, hunt this bloke down until there is nothing left of him – for Australia’s sake.


  52. Great read Margo .. I’ll be interested to know what excuses Abbott will come up with for the period he was neither ‘Leader of the House’ or LOTO .. September 08 -December 09 The ‘representational role’ argument is useless there..


  53. What a sad state Australia finds itself in. It’s Prime Minister, Mr Tony Abbott is no more than a gutter level common thief.

    With respect to the sums of money he fraudulently stole in respect of his attending former work colleague’s weddings, there are no ambiguities, grey areas or uncertainties. He simply stole/converted; as he is intelligent have then known, to his own use, both sums of money, with the criminal intent of permanently, and unlawfully depriving his employer…the Australian Parliament of both amounts. As every sane and reason minded person would be aware, beyond what he/she is lawfully entitled to, no employee, has the legal right to touch or use any property….in any form, or guise of the his/her employer…it is then fraudulent theft….stealing, be it as a servant, or employee.

    Mr Abbott cannot claim that it was a mistake…in any manner or form. Both sums of expenditure are not allowed in any form by the Rules in place. Because Mr Abbott repaid both sums, does not make it right or correct. If a bank robber, or vicious criminal returns the proceeds of their criminal gain/crime…they are still correctly, and rightfully prosecuted. This is a very simple open and shut prima facie matter.

    Why hasn’t Mr Abbott been charged yet? Have the Australian Federal Police been summonsed yet? As with all other matters involving criminal litigation, the relevant Police authority, and Public Prosecutor, will decide from their investigations if Mr Abbott has a case to answer. It is not the place of some politically appointed steward to look into whether Mr. Abbott committed a crime or not.

    The Rules that were, and are currently in place, that govern Parliamentary Member’s Entitlements do not in their wildest extrapolated interpretation allow for Mr Abbott to fraudulently use; as he did, his employer’s funds to attend two private Weddings….regardless of who they were, and who may have been guests at those weddings. When shall Mr Abbott be charged with these crimes? This is a question every right minded Australian should be asking themselves, irrespective of political leaning.


    • If Liesalot was employed anywhere else, he would have been made to repay the embezzlled money & been sacked forthwith without a reference, but because he’s an MP he’s apparently a protected species, particularly by the Murdoch press.


  54. Good stuff Margo,
    some one willing to hang in there, through all delays and rubbish.
    hang in there :grin:

  55. Shirley Green says:

    I would like to know why taxpayers funded very expensive airfares and accommodation for Abbott and family members to the Birdsville Races and to the Tamworth Music Festival. What did these events have to do with politics?


  56. Tony Abbott has said his entilements are all in order , then they are legit i can not see what a foi is going to prove


    • And as we know, Abbott is the suppository of all knowlede

      • Kim Wright says:

        Malcolm are you saying because Tony Abbott says they are legit they are legit? IF you are, haven’t you been noticing his behaviour consistently, but more noticed since the election is not very honest?


        • Malcolm, Finance pays claims without question. It’s only if irregularities are brought to their attention that they scrutinise the claim.

          In the light of all this, I think the honour system wrt expenses claims must be abandoned, & every claim submitted should be scrutinised.

          Either that or each MP and Senator should be allocated an expenses budget each year and when they have exhausted the funds, any further expenses must come out of their own pockets. I think that would nip the current rorting in the bud.

  57. Kim Wright says:

    There are so many issues and only one Margo!


  58. Hi Margo, I used to read your Webdiary column and always found it to be very informative.
    Thanks for this article. I am glad I have found my way to this site and thanks to the people over at Indepdent Australia for the link.

    Seems Abbott and his cohorts have one rule for themselves and another for everyone else. If Peter Slipper can be charged for exactly the same offence why isn’t the AFP persuing Abbott for fraud as well? I guess we all know the answer to that question.
    This whole thing stinks to high heaven. Why isn’t the MSM doing their job and investigating this matter further? Oh, yeah, right. Murdoch has his lackey in the top job and will do everything in his power to make sure he stays there.

    I am completely disgusted with the people of Australia for voting in this wretch of a man to be PM. What were they thinking? Clearly, not very much.


  59. I am disgusted! Bring on a double dissolution right now .


  60. To use a well worn expression from the last few years; could one say “this is a bad Prime Minister, leading a bad government”?

    Keep up the great work, Margo (and others on the same track).


  61. I hope Turnbull is rallying his troops.


  62. I think Turnbull could just be doing that. I say this, when one tries to make sense of what he is saying about the NBNco.


  63. This is excellent coverage of a series of events which need to be made public and dealt with in a professional and competent manner. It certainly places Abbott in the spotlight.

  64. Michael Hewitt says:

    Here’s the AFP’s response to my request that they investigate:

    Thank you for your correspondence to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
    The matter you have referred below is not the jurisdiction of the AFP.
    This matter is best dealt with by the Commonwealth Ombudsman. The
    following is the web link that will give you the contact details for
    the Ombudsman.

    And here’s their response to my follow-up:

    If you wish to have your request for investigation further evaluated by the AFP, you must go on the AFP website http://www.afp.gov.au and fill out the referral form for reporting a Commonwealth crime. This referral will then be assessed and you will be made aware of the result in writing.

    Nothing to see here; move along…


  65. Keep digging Margo, and do not forget the 3 that claimed expenses to attend that wedding in India!!!! It is disgusting how the snouts are in the trough, when pensioners are struggling to live on the pittance they are given. Do not give up, they are common thieves!!!!


  66. http://www.zdnet.com/au/turnbull-recommits-to-nbn-cost-benefit-analysis-7000021898/

    Turnbull is now going to waste six months with the NBN on hiatus. The plan is to spend more taxpayers money on ‘consultations’ to figure out the most cost effective and value for money configuration of future internet in Australia. Derp… I predict (if they have any common sense) they will probably end up taking on most of the current NBN plans developed by the ALP.


  67. Thank you Margo for restoring my sanity.


  68. Liars, thy name is Rorters


  69. this is all too familiar of the treatment and ultimate jailing of Pauline hanson same methods of immoral actions bt the LIBS


  70. wriggle, wriggle, wriggle, he gets away with wriggling out of telling the truth and lying. Are the media scared of him?
    Was Mark Riley (channel 7) about to be decked by Abbott about the “shit happens” boofhead remark? He has people watching over him, even in Parliament, what is Credlin doing, hovering there? Why was her DUI matter put off the table prior to the election. The alarm bells are ringing, a government that lies about NBN, MRRT, ETS, Unions, MV mfg, deficits but handed out $800m to Murdoch. Come on AU Media, THERE IS SOMETHING ROTTEN IN RENMARK. Make this jerk stop lying.Make his band of goons stop lying, make them stop inciting Indonesia & China. Make him show us he has more to do than stopping the boats, ETS, NBN. Leave all that alone, along with Medicare and do things that are really needed. That is govern at the will of all the people, not just the libs. All men are equal Phoney Tony, disgraceful catholic, consider yourself to be excommunicated herewith by myself on behalf of all AU tykes.

  71. Lou Dolgner says:

    To all the people voting in the W.A. senate to be held soon – do not vote Coalition – teach them a lesson. Likewise in Redcliffe Qld bi-election tomorrow. How can anyone vote LNP in Qld?


  72. How will Media, Finance and AFP handle the evidence that the PM is a cheat? – No Fibs http://t.co/rT4zJ4KeHA via @NoFibs

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