Some strong contenders for the 2017 Outrageous Parliamentary Boondoggle competition.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, cigar chomping mate of Smoking’ Joe Hockey, has hit the front for all the wrong reasons (again).

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Senator Cormann, who was pictured smoking a cigar with then treasurer Joe Hockey while finalising the 2014 budget, attended last year’s AFL grand final on a taxpayer-funded trip as did Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.

It looks like he’s a serial offender.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who is responsible for keeping government spending under control, billed taxpayers more than $23,000 for weekend trips to the beach resort town of Broome with his wife over five years.

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Now, to be fair, this isn’t part photograph, printed in notorious left-wing rag, The Sunday Age. No one would believe that Mathias Cormann was such a dork that he would wear a suit  to go riding a camel.

Boondoggle score 7/10

It was revealed this week that Labor frontbenchers Chris Bowen and Brendan O’Connor charged taxpayers more than $10,000 each to take their families to Darwin during the 2015 July school holidays while travelling on official business.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who lives in Melbourne, also charged taxpayers for 12 trips with his family to Queensland holiday resorts.

Boondoggle scores 7.5/10

But there has to be special recognition for this effort from Kevin Andrews clearly believes that praying should be a taxpayer funded activity.

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Conservative coalition MP Kevin Andrews drew on his taxpayer-funded “study allowance” when he travelled to the United States to attend a prayer breakfast and address a right-wing think tank.

The Victorian backbencher skipped a week of parliament to participate in the 64th annual National Prayer Breakfast and deliver a speech at the influential Heritage Foundation in Washington DC last February.

A spokesperson Paul Andrews said  “The breakfast was a unique opportunity to meet, within a short space of time, political, civic and business leaders from the US and internationally,”

Mr Andrews also held a series of meetings on the event’s sidelines with Tea Party figure Robert Alderholt, marriage educator Bill Coffin and policy experts on families and national security.

“It was an opportunity to re-establish US contacts, and to make new contacts”

He’s a back bencher for heaven’s sake. Not a minister, not the Prime Minister. So why does he need to be making these contacts in the US?  Because he is entitled to.

Boondoggle score 8/10

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop remains firm that she never planned to attend this year’s Portsea Polo. An unworn Hugo Boss outfit suggests otherwise.

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She sure gets around: Julie Bishop at the Melbourne Cup

Fairfax Media can reveal the global fashion house had reportedly agreed to dress the foreign minister, who was set to be one of the star attractions at the annual society event on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula,

Instead, Ms Bishop was a late no-show, citing the visit to Australia by Japan’s Prime Minister as the reason for her absence.

Ms Bishop had been scheduled to attend as a guest of naming sponsor Alfa Romeo but in the wake of the government expenses scandal, including the fact she billed taxpayers to attend last year’s event, she opted not to attend.

In fairness to Julie Bishop, you can’t imagine that the Foreign Minister would book a tax-payer funded, private enterprise sponsored trip to the polo when the Prime Minister of Japan was visiting. Could you?

Boondoggle score for last year’s effort  8/10

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