Federal Politics

License article

Free NRL finals tickets embarrass contender Anthony Albanese

Labor leadership contender Anthony Albanese has been forced to declare two free tickets to NRL finals after documents showed he took taxpayer-funded transport to watch his beloved South Sydney.

Up Next

Domestic airport security could increase

Video duration

More National Times Videos

All MPs checking expenses

With the outcry on MPs' expenses now extending to some of the Prime Minister's bike riding trips, the PM's parliamentary secretary says all federal politicians would have been looking back for possible problems with their claims.

As the expenses scandal continues late into a second week, Tony Abbott's office refused to substantiate the Prime Minister's claim he conducted ''official business'' during his $1300 trip to Port Macquarie in 2011 to compete in an ironman event.

This calls into question his claim on Tuesday that he did not travel to marginal seats ''simply for sporting events'' and ''there were quite a few other community events involved in those visits''.

Mr Albanese, who defended Mr Abbott's ironman expenses on Wednesday, later had to acknowledge his own ''oversight'' in not disclosing free sports tickets on his parliamentary record of pecuniary interests.

The then transport and infrastructure minister took several Comcar trips in Sydney on September 15 last year, the day of the elimination final between the Rabbitohs and Canberra. Mr Albanese tweeted a photo of himself at the game in a Rabbitohs scarf.


He also took Comcar trips in Sydney on September 22 last year, to watch Canterbury beat the Rabbitohs in the preliminary final. Mr Albanese said this expense was justified because he was at the games in an official capacity as a guest of the NRL and Qantas.

Fairfax Media's enquiries prompted Mr Albanese to discover he had not declared the free tickets to Parliament. He said he had always been scrupulous about his register and would now update it.

Federal MPs receive taxpayer-funded travel for ''parliamentary, electorate or official business''.

Mr Abbott has been criticised for claiming more than $23,000 on trips linked to last year's Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge, 2011 Bathurst V8 Supercar race, 2010 Melbourne Cup, 2010 Boxing Day Test match at the MCG, and 2011 Birdsville Races. He classified his 2011 ironman trip as ''official business''.

After repeated questioning on Wednesday, Mr Abbott's office refused to provide details of any other community events or official business he conducted while in Port Macquarie. ''Mr Abbott's visit to Port Macquarie was covered by local and national media at the time,'' a spokesman said, without giving any further information.

An article in the Port Macquarie News the following Monday quoted Mr Abbott describing the ironman as ''mental therapy''.

''I think it's very important to get as much exercise as I can to ensure I have a stable mind for my political career,'' Mr Abbott said.

The report said Mr Abbott answered questions on issues including the Qantas strike and the 14-year-old boy in a Bali prison on drug charges. He also visited the Beach House pub on Saturday night.

Ged Kearney, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, said: ''There are tens of thousands of dollars being linked to Tony Abbott for expense trips that the Tax Office would not accept from the average worker.''

fairfax subscriptions


Comment are now closed