From EXCLUSIVE: Abbott forced to repay $9,400 he charged taxpayers to promote his book by Margo Kingston:
The Opposition leader, Mr Abbott, was forced to repay taxpayers nearly $9,400 after receiving travel expenses to promote his book Battlelines in 2009.
The repayment occurred after Mr Abbott publicly denied the allegation through a spokesman, who stated:
“All travel undertaken by Mr Abbott has been within the entitlement. This is a blatant attempt by Labor to smear and mislead.”
Mr Glenn Milne raised the matter in an article in The Drum on 28 July, 2010 in which he calculated that Mr Abbott had ripped $6,651.96 off taxpayers for private expenses he incurred in promoting his book:
“At the very least these expenses are politically awkward. Was he also doing government business in the places where he promoted his book? Even if he was, is it appropriate to plug your book while you’re there when taxpayers are paying the travel bill? Remember the savage gusto with which the Opposition, Abbott included, went after Kevin Rudd and former defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon over claims they had not properly declared privately sponsored air fares to China.”
Documents obtained by No Fibs under Freedom of Information laws show that in response to the article, the Finance Department wrote to Mr Abbott on 19 August, 2010 under the Minchin Protocol – which allows MPs to repay false claims to avoid being referred to the AFP – requiring him to justify his Battlelines claims.
In reply, Mr Abbott’s chief of staff, Ms Credlin agreed to repay $6255.49 for flights “inadvertently booked for official travel rather than private”.
But on 10 January 2011 the Special Minister of State, Mr Gray, wrote to Mr Abbott confirming that he had failed to reimburse other claims for non-flight Battlelines expenses, including the use of Comcars, and had repaid another $3,141.93.
Mr Gray said that “given the repayments made I do not intend to take further action” but that Mr Abbott should not make such claims again and desist from requiring taxpayer-funded staff to work on his private business.
It appears that Mr Abbott has not corrected the public record.
The treatment of Mr Abbott is in stark contrast to that of Mr Slipper, who has been charged with wrongly claiming $900 in travel allowance in 2010. Mr Slipper offered to repay the $900 when the matter was raised last year, but was told by the Finance Department that the Minchin Protocol did not apply because the matter had been directly referred to police by a person who remains a mystery.
I urge everyone to read Margo’s full article and after doing so will probably ask the same question as I have: “Why is this being ignored by the mainstream media?” It has gone viral throughout social media but it just isn’t newsworthy elsewhere, apparently. There can only be one reason it is being avoided: it could be damning to their golden boy, Tony Abbott. It is also damning to our mainstream media given their frenzy over Peter Slipper’s $900 indiscretion.
Our mainstream media are really pathetic.