Sunday, 21 September 2014

'The Life of Pyne'

The Commonwealth education minister gets his priorities wrong again.

The Abbott government is facing more scrutiny over travel entitlements, with fresh documents revealing Education Minister Christopher Pyne and his wife had a taxpayer-funded $30,000 trip to London and Rome in April.

The trip included taxpayers being billed $1352 for Mr Pyne to "day let" a room at a swish London hotel before he and his wife, Carolyn, flew back to Australia later that day, and more than $2000 for VIP services at Heathrow Airport.

"It is not sufficient to include the spouse in the minister's existing program of meetings. The travel must be justified and defensible," the guidelines state.Under the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet's travel guidelines, ministers' spouses are not normally allowed to go on trips and are only entitled to if they have an invitation from a foreign government or host organisation and an official program of events separate to that of the minister.

The Department of Education has revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request that it has no documents showing a foreign government invitation for Mrs Pyne nor an official program of events for her.

Of course the Treasurer Joe Hockey declared "the age of entitlement" to be over and weeks before the federal budget made significant cuts to education and health spending.

The Abbott government last year made changes to politicians' travel entitlements after a series of reports about high-profile ministers and MPs billing the taxpayer to attend weddings, NRL games or investment properties.Nice for some.

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