Road rage: Govt sees red over car claim
Ticked off ... MLA Jeremy Hanson says Labor is indulging in ''grubby attacks''. Photo: Stuart Walmsley
Canberra Liberals MLA Jeremy Hanson has been accused by Labor of giving his wife a $40,000 taxpayer funded vehicle to drive for the duration of his re-election campaign.
The Canberra Liberals say the arrangement, where Mr Hanson uses the family car for electioneering while his wife drives the taxpayer funded vehicle, is within the Assembly's rules.
But Labor said yesterday that it was an ''arrogant exploitation,'' of the generous car allowances granted to MLAs, while Mr Hanson shot back, accusing his opponents of ''grubby attacks.''
Mr Hanson, the Liberals' health and prisons spokesman, has been driving a late model Holden Captiva emblazoned with his picture and slogans for the past several months.
While the Captiva, which Mr Hanson says is jointly owned by the couple, is being used for his re-election campaign, Mrs Hanson has been using the MLA's taxpayer provided Ford Territory, which cannot be used for electioneering purposes, for the couple's private use.
MLAs can take a car up to the value of $46,000 as part of their salaries or take an allowance of $17,000.
Mr Hanson's arrangement has been ticked off by the Assembly authorities as within the rules governing politicians' perks and entitlements, but Labor is not happy.
ACT branch secretary Elias Hallaj accused Mr Hanson of cynically using his entitlements to try to boost his re-election chances.
''I am amazed and disappointed at the continued arrogant exploitation of taxpayer funded entitlements by the Canberra Liberals,'' Mr Hallaj said.
Mr Hallaj acknowledged that the Assembly Clerk's office had considered the matter of Mr Hanson's car, and concluded that
it was technically within the guidelines.
''However, the community might see things differently,'' Mr Hallaj said. ''The bottom line is that Mr Hanson only has this campaign vehicle because he is provided with a taxpayer funded car and ultimately it's for the Canberra community to judge whether that's an appropriate use of taxpayer funds.
''Much like the $10,000 in volunteer grants the Canberra Liberals were forced to pay back, the community looks dimly on politicians exploiting loopholes in guidelines to use taxpayer funds for electioneering.''
Mr Hanson declined to be interviewed yesterday but issued a statement through his party saying that his car arrangement was within the rules and that Labor was engaging in grubby attacks.
''When your only attack is against someone obeying the rules, you're really running out of things to say,'' Mr Hanson said in his statement.