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Free NRL finals tickets embarrass contender Anthony Albanese

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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.

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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.

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.

Rabbitohs supporter: Anthony Albanese.

Rabbitohs supporter: Anthony Albanese. Photo: Supplied

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.''

 

 

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86 comments

  • Apparently Labor MP's will assemble in Canberra twice in the next week to continue the soap opera that is the Labor leadership. Jolly good.

    But as far as funding their extravagance goes, why should the taxpayer be picking up the bill ?

    Commenter
    Hacka
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    October 10, 2013, 6:44AM
    • It's all getting a bit ridiculous but in the case of party functions etc perhaps the party should pick up the bill, then the taxpayers would pay for it anyway and that ladies and gentlemen would be a lesson in rorting far more than any politician could manage.
      I notice that Sarah Hanson Young, she of the high moral ground and thin lips, has kept very quiet of late regarding her 400 odd k claimed in 2012, twice as much as her leader.
      I suppose the chattering media have to have something to write about now as they are not being spoon fed every 10min what to write for the day. Deep breaths it will no doubt change soon.

      Commenter
      J Walker
      Date and time
      October 10, 2013, 7:20AM
    • Maybe they should conduct the leadership ballot in Port Macquarie while cycling and wearing lycra as that passes the test as official business according to your hero eh Hacka

      Commenter
      havasay
      Date and time
      October 10, 2013, 7:27AM
    • Watch all the left wing loonies burrow into their rabbit holes after all their absurd posturing over these past few days!!!!! This can't possibly happen to an ALP politician could it???? Both sides of politics do it, get over it

      Commenter
      MTK
      Location
      Port Melbourne
      Date and time
      October 10, 2013, 7:37AM
    • What taxpayer gets concessions in their tax return to participate in sporting events unless they are a professional. Abbott seems to have a problem with finances. When turfed out of Government last time he was concerned because the lower pay rate meant he had to refinance his mortgage
      The Labor Party at least has a number of people with leadership capacity. The Coalition doesn't even seem to have one looking at the chosen leader's performance so far

      Commenter
      Kris
      Date and time
      October 10, 2013, 8:05AM
    • Probably the same reason the taxpayer has to foot Tonys bills for refreshing his mind at sporting carnivals. Wonder when we will see his mind refreshed!!

      Commenter
      Pieron
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 10, 2013, 8:06AM
    • At least it is clear in the rules that the ALPs meeting in Canberra is within entitlement. However, the campaigning is NOT. If the ALP members have claimed travel entitlements for the leadership position it will be an outrageous farce!

      Commenter
      Sick_Unto_Death
      Date and time
      October 10, 2013, 8:46AM
    • J Walker - good point about the Greens. Normally they're very vocal about these issues. Cat got their tongue ?

      havasay - well they can conduct it wherever they like. Balmain Town Hall comes to mind as well. Just pay for it out of ALP funds, especially after yesterday's $20 million bonus from the AEC.

      Commenter
      Hacka
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      October 10, 2013, 8:48AM
    • The right wing rogues will continue to dip into the trough as long as they can get away with it. Self-gratuity is in their DNA.

      Commenter
      RTP.
      Location
      Sawtell
      Date and time
      October 10, 2013, 8:57AM
    • @ Hacka, are you now saying that Labor shouldn't get their $20 million from the AEC? why didn't you mention the $23 million that the LNP got? The reason that parties get this is so they have the money to run campaigns and inform the voting public of their policies rather than needing to get all of it from 'donations' ie bribes from big business. As has already been pointed out, this is actually legitimate party business that they can claim for. I guess if Abbott actually recalled parliament sometime soon they wouldn't need to fly there specially for this.

      Commenter
      marktlog
      Date and time
      October 10, 2013, 10:26AM

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