Mathias Cormann solves the parable of loaves, fishes and a credit card
Advertisement

Mathias Cormann solves the parable of loaves, fishes and a credit card

Can you imagine my surprise, Prime Minister? A very pleasant surprise it was, too, while it lasted.

There we were, my little family on holiday in Singapore, and the credit card just wouldn’t run out.

A miracle, I thought, remembering the parable of the loaves and fishes from Sunday school back in the village.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann was questioned about a family holiday in Senate estimates on Tuesday.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann was questioned about a family holiday in Senate estimates on Tuesday.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Well, I announced, no mere street-stall noodles on this holiday! Chilli crab all round. And a Singapore ice-cream sandwich for afters.

Advertisement
Loading

The kiddies squealed with delight. "You’re the best, Daddy," they cried.

I sneaked another look at the credit card balance and requested an upgrade to the Courtyard Suite at Raffles. And high tea. And a cigar.

As Finance Minister, you’d understand I am very careful with money.

The high tea did seem slightly excessive, but the card had no trouble covering it. I checked and double checked, as a Finance Minister would do.

I must, I mused with more than a little pride, have saved more from my $390,000 salary, plus entitlements, than I’d thought.

I’d feared the airfares would make more of a dent.

The helpful folk at Helloworld, before wishing us bon voyage, had assured us we’d get the best deal. And wowee-doodle, I recall thinking as we entered the air-conditioned mercy of Pearls of the Orient and Other Splendours off Orchard Road, the deal must have been a real beauty.

Excellent company, Helloworld, by the way. In very good hands. As any Liberal would understand. You don’t get to be treasurer of the Liberal Party, like Andrew Burnes of Helloworld, without knowing a thing or two about how to do business.

Still, it turns out he’s got a problem with someone in the accounts department. Very sloppy, whoever it is.

Can you imagine?

They clean forgot to charge my card for the cost of the flights!

There goes the parable of the loaves and the fishes, I thought to myself when my press secretary rushed in, breathless, to inform me that a couple of bothersome reporters had got hold of evidence that, in fact, the family and I hadn’t been charged for the flights to Singapore.

Well, I said, that’s a relief. It clears things up nicely.

I’d been so puzzled that I can recall lying awake in the Courtyard Suite at Raffles, trying and trying to understand how we could keep spending and the card just kept looking healthier.

As Finance Minister, I worry about those things. I’m sure the journalists will understand, I told my press secretary.

He stammered something about a Helloworld subsidiary winning a billion-dollar contract for government travel from my department around the time of our little family holiday.

Labor senator Penny Wong listens to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann in a committee hearing on Tuesday morning.

Labor senator Penny Wong listens to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann in a committee hearing on Tuesday morning.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

But I’d had enough about miracles for one day, thanks.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking about getting Centrelink to install one of their famous phone services to remind people like me that it’s their responsibility to check their financial transactions when things look unusual.

They do something like that for the poor, don’t they?

Why not for finance ministers?

Tony Wright is the associate editor and special writer for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Most Viewed in Politics

Loading
Advertisement