Federal Politics

EXCLUSIVE

George Brandis' new library means two departments chipping in

A new wing of the monumental ''Brandis Library'' is set to open after two Commonwealth departments agreed to pool their money to buy the Attorney-General a new bookcase.

George Brandis' bibliographic difficulties came to public attention with revelations he spent more than $20,000 of taxpayers' funds on a personal library and a custom-built bookcase that was too big to be moved into his new office when the Coalition won government.

Senator Brandis' former bookcase - dubbed the Brandis Library by some in Parliament House - is now in the office of Labor senator Stephen Conroy.

Since the election, Senator Brandis has been working without adequate shelf space but newly released information suggests his wait will soon be over. An order has been taken and funding allocated.

The Department of Parliamentary Services has confirmed it ''is developing a cost-effective design that will meet the senator's storage needs''.

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The Attorney-General's Department has agreed to meet ''part of the cost'' of the bookcase, a note sent by department secretary Roger Wilkins to Labor senator Joseph Ludwig says. The Department of Parliamentary Services will pay the rest of the bill.

''The Attorney-General has requested shelving being installed, at the lowest cost to the taxpayer,'' Senator Brandis' spokesman said.

Senator Brandis defended, as within his rights, spending almost $13,000 of taxpayers' funds in four years on books and magazines, including cartoons, the thriller The Marmalade Files and Christopher Hitchens' memoir Hitch-22.

But it was his ''working library'' of legal textbooks and reports containing decisions of the High Court of Australia that necessitated the larger shelves, the spokesman said.

He needed new shelves because, as deputy Senate leader, his office could not fit hundreds of volumes of the Commonwealth Law Reports, the spokesman said. All previous attorneys-general had offices with bookcases big enough to store the reports, he added.

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