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Kelly says cost of office re-fit out of his control

No say ... Mike Kelly says the Finance Department directed his office fit-out.

No say ... Mike Kelly says the Finance Department directed his office fit-out. Photo: Melissa Adams

Eden-Monaro MP Mike Kelly says he had no say over the fit-out of his electorate office that cost half a million dollars.

He said the costs were partly due to extra security and communications issues related to his position as Minister for Defence Materiel.

The costs were triggered by the relocation of his Queanbeyan electorate office because the owners of the original site were redeveloping.

''Any questions about the re-establishment of our office should be directed to the Department of Finance, I have no say in those matters,'' he said.

''They adopt a template approach to this and, as could be seen from the story, the costs were very similar to fitting out a new office for the Liberal MP Patrick Secker.

''I would note that in Patrick Secker's case, it was a voluntary move, which is, I think, the bigger question to ask as to whether those costs were therefore necessary.

''In my case it was a forced move.''

It was not clear on Wednesday if the taxpayer-funded fit-out would be transferred to his successor if he loses the bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro.

If Liberal candidate Peter Hendy wins, he would be expected to occupy the office, according to the Finance Department.

But Mr Hendy said he would be a backbencher if elected.

''If I were to be lucky enough to win the seat, I would [act] at the direction of the Department of Finance as to where I could put the office and how much could be spent,'' he said.

''I think there's a chance it would be a different location because I understand he [Dr Kelly] has a ministerial office.''

Mr Hendy was chief of staff to Defence Minister Peter Reith in the Howard government.

''I do understand, based on my experience in both the business sector and in government positions, that there are requirements for security for offices and other aspects to ensure ministers have appropriate accommodation,'' he said.

Fairfax Media reported on Wednesday that Dr Kelly received a parliamentary entitlement in the second half of last year of about $810,000, of which $526,737 was spent fitting out his office.

An analysis of the latest expense payment disclosures shows Foreign Minister Bob Carr was at the top of the list, receiving entitlements of $961,234 in the final six months of last year, mainly due to overseas travel totalling $721,577.

South Australian Liberal Mr Secker came in third place with spending of $757,684 - again, largely attributable to an office fit-out costing $505,338.

Dr Kelly said his previous office was part of a redevelopment. ''All of the tenants were evicted and I then spent six months with my team effectively almost camping out in an abandoned office until a new office could be fitted out,'' he said.

''I am the Minister for Defence Material, therefore there are also extra security and communications issues associated with my office.

''I do know they ran into some difficulty with the fit-out because they found the floor was not strong enough for our equipment. So they had to work with the owner to reconcrete the whole floor.

''I would have thought the issue here is not that there was a move of office or costs associated with that but whether those costs were reasonable.''

The Finance Department was asked if office leases have a clause allowing early termination if an MP is defeated, or a provision to recover any costs of renovations.

''Finance routinely requests that an early termination clause be included in a lease during negotiations, however this is subject to the landlord's acceptance,'' a spokeswoman said. ''It is expected that an incoming senator or member will occupy the office vacated by his or her predecessor.

''Commercial property contracts do not generally allow for payments to vacating tenants for these reasons.''

17 comments

  • I do not believe that he had no idea. This is typical of politicians not taking any responsibilities, incredible. That money could be expended in health or house for people really need.

    Commenter
    Robilant
    Date and time
    July 04, 2013, 7:10AM
    • Gee mr kelly thats bad luck really, do you think the finance department would give me a pbs card. I am a self funded retiree who earns 12000 a year but because i am not 65 i cannot get assistance even though my heath is suffering and my self funded husband earns too much from his entitlements which is less then one would earn working all their life, he gets a pbs card. Instead of griping about what you have no control over start doing something for the people of your electorate which you get voted to do

      Commenter
      naughty nanny
      Location
      batemans bay
      Date and time
      July 04, 2013, 7:18AM
      • And that is just another reason why the wasteful gillard government had to go!

        Commenter
        Sharron
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        July 04, 2013, 7:31AM
        • Sharron, remember its the same horse, just a differnet egomaniac jockey.

          Commenter
          OLD DOG
          Date and time
          July 04, 2013, 8:31AM
      • Do these people really take the average taxpayer as a fool?
        Anything of excess could be stopped if he cared too, simple.

        Commenter
        TheJoker1214324
        Date and time
        July 04, 2013, 7:54AM
        • What a load of garbage, once again a politician treating the public like we are idiots. So he means to tell me that he was not consulted at all? Does this mean in the near future more money will be wasted on doing alterations to the new office because Mr Kelly is not happy with the current design and layout? CT should keep a close eye on this because if this occurs it shows us just how wasteful politicians are with the hard earned dollar of the taxpayer. Totally disgusted.

          Commenter
          KO
          Location
          Canberra
          Date and time
          July 04, 2013, 8:07AM
          • KO, quire simply all, I repeat all politicians, Federal, State and Territory treat us all as fools, those people with no commonsense like we deserve to cop it in the neck day in day out all because they beat some other moron for their seat.
            Wake up Australia, we are the laughing stock of the world and heading down the gurgler at a great rate of knots, time to be afraid, very afraid.

            Commenter
            OLD DOG
            Date and time
            July 04, 2013, 8:34AM
        • It was Tony Abotts fault.......

          Commenter
          You What
          Date and time
          July 04, 2013, 8:08AM
          • what a stupid and irresponsible comment from :you what

            Commenter
            huggie
            Location
            conder
            Date and time
            July 04, 2013, 8:57AM
          • Huggie....I know is was is a stupid reply but hey, the ALP have been using it for such a long time I guess it just got stuck in my mind.

            Commenter
            You What
            Date and time
            July 04, 2013, 9:34AM

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