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Taxpayers foot bill to end lease on Prime Minister's luxury home

Luxurious: The house in Canberra rented for the Prime Minister.

Luxurious: The house in Canberra rented for the Prime Minister. Photo: Leigh Henningham

A $3000-a-week house rented in Canberra last year for the Prime Minister has been quietly handed back to the landlord without Tony Abbott having set foot inside.

But the public servants who splashed out on the luxury home will not come clean on how much taxpayers' money they paid to back out of the lease.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet was left red-faced in November after it was revealed in Senate Estimates that it rented the luxury home in Forrest for $156,000, in the lead-up to the September 7 election. The Arthur Circle house was meant to be the PM's Canberra base while The Lodge was refurbished.

But the bureaucrats were forced to admit to the Senate committee that neither of the contenders for the top job, Mr Abbott and Kevin Rudd, had seen the house before the lease was signed.

After his election, Mr Abbott said he had no intention of staying in the house and instead moved into the Australian Federal Police College at a cost of $110 a night.

Labor called the episode an ''outrageous waste'' of taxpayers' money. Before the month was out, a deal had been struck to hand the house back to the landlord.

Meantime, the Department of Finance says the work on The Lodge is on schedule and Mr Abbott should be able to move into his Canberra residence in the middle of the year.

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152 comments

  • If I am reading this story right, it was under Labor that the waste occurred. Why does the banner suggest Abbott is to blame and not Rudd and his cronies.? How did such a misleading headline slip past Towell or the Editor- or perhaps it did not. Next they will be suggesting Abbott killed Kennedy simply because he was alive at the time. At least Labor came clean about their own "outrageous waste".

    Commenter
    A.Housden
    Location
    Kangaroo Valley
    Date and time
    February 06, 2014, 6:39AM
    • If you want unbiased reporting you have to read The Australian.

      Commenter
      Jason
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 7:02AM
    • That's right, Murdoch has been famous for his level and even reporting of things...

      I'm not a trendy lefty, I've been accused of quasi-fascism before, but if the Australian is supposed to represent fair and honest journalism, then my bollocks are green. It's the Telegraph for those who want to hold the same opinions as the cabbages, but feel superior.

      Commenter
      SIllyKiwiMan
      Location
      Newtown
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 7:40AM
    • Independent.Always. (but still have axes to grind)

      Commenter
      Halcyon Ford
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 7:43AM
    • A.Housden - spot on. This article (at least the attention grabbing headline) and others SMH articles previously have implied Abbott was responsible for the lease. Absolutely disgraceful reporting.

      Commenter
      Flanders
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 7:45AM
    • Damn! Just dropped my toast. Think I'll blame Abbott for that.

      Commenter
      The Other Guy
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 7:46AM
    • Wonder who is receiving the rent for the empty mansion? Is the rent above market rates? They are further questions worth investigation.

      Commenter
      Bang Bang
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 7:53AM
    • You're not reading the story right. The waste was in in not being utilised, with Abbott instead adding to costs by taking on alternate accommodation. To make himself look all spartan and frugal, I'd imagine.
      Jason, you've made me laugh! Unbiased reporting from the Oz?? That'd be nice to see. Like unicorns and just as likely.

      Commenter
      Warwick
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 7:55AM
    • yes, thats the way I read it too, yet another waste of money by the labor government, that the liberals have had to fix (yet again!)

      the article is misleading. It should say "liberals end more of labors waste"

      Commenter
      peter
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 7:55AM
    • Tony wouldn't know what extravagance was. That's why he has only spent a few hundred thousand so far on renovations at his unpretentious little harbourfront mansion at Kirribilli: he's such a man of the people. In fact, that $13 000 rug he just bought (with our money) probably only cost that much because of Tony's modest desire to have "Man of the People" hand embroidered across it in gold thread. I marvel at the way Tony keeps security and travel costs to a bare minimum by only living in 3 different houses while his fourth is being renovated. Go Tony, my hero!

      Commenter
      Party Stooge
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 8:01AM

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