Coalition ministers charge taxpayers $4500 for trip to $10,000-a-head fundraiser

September 2, 2019

Stuart Robert, Dan Tehan and Simon Birmingham charged taxpayers more than $4,500 for an overnight trip to Sydney where they mingled with mining and banking donors at a $10,000-a-head Liberal party fundraiser dinner hosted by Channel Nine, according to Guardian Australia.

The three cabinet ministers flew into Sydney on the day of the fundraiser last year and flew out the following day, and charged their flights and overnight accommodation costs to their parliamentary allowances.

The rules for expenses bar MPs from claiming travel where the dominant purpose is to raise funds for political parties, but all three claim they were within the rules because they were in Sydney for other parliamentary business in the hours either side of the fundraiser.

According to Guardian Australia, all three have repeatedly refused to say whether they were invited to the fundraiser before booking the parliamentary business that coincided.

A spokesman for Robert said while in Sydney he met with the National Disability Insurance Agency and its board, and held a briefing with the human services department, with consultants McKinsey and KPMG, on the department’s transition to Services Australia. 

Tehan said he was in Sydney for the dominant purpose of visiting Western Sydney University and the Samuel Terry public school and to participate in an education forum.

Birmingham, said he was in Sydney to meet Sydney Ports, the prudential regulator, and Export Finance Australia. He also had a live studio interview with Bloomberg.

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