Federal Labor MP Bill Shorten has called for an investigation into claims two Coalition frontbenchers used thousands of dollars in taxpayer entitlements to attend a wedding in Sydney.

Attorney-General George Brandis and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce reportedly claimed over $3,000 in travel expenses to attend the wedding of radio presenter Michael Smith in 2011.

Senator Brandis has told the Fairfax media that he used the wedding as an opportunity to collaborate with Mr Smith over his work covering the Health Services Union scandal involving former MP Craig Thomson.

Mr Shorten says the reason given does not justify the use of taxpayers' money.

"I think George Brandis and Barnaby Joyce will most likely have to refund the money," Mr Shorten said.

"I think there should be an investigation. It is not normal to say that the reason why you get the taxpayer to support you to go to a wedding is so that you can network with journalists."

Fairfax newspapers reported that the cost of flights, hire cars and incidental expenses were among travel expenses lodged with the Department of Finance.

Mr Joyce rejected the Fairfax report, saying he may have used a Commonwealth car on the day, but that he did not claim flights or accommodation.

"The only thing I can see in this, and it was two years ago, was the use of a COMCAR on the same day as the wedding," Mr Joyce said.

"I will now dig back and do what I can to find out about that and if there's some ambiguity I'll pay it back, but the idea I claimed thousands of dollars is just wrong."

Mr Shorten told ABC's Insiders program he does not want to "ultimately prejudge the full consequences".

"There may be an explanation. I don't know all the facts, but should there be an explanation? Yes."

Meanwhile, the radio announcer at the centre of the controversy has defended the actions of the politicians on his website.

Mr Smith says the cost of the then-Senators' transport to the wedding was paid for by he and his wife.

He says any expense claims were justified because both Senators engaged with journalists at the wedding and their attendance at the celebration "did not demur in any way from their paid elected role as prominent federal parliamentarians".

Mr Smith asked of Fairfax: "Is it your interpretation of the [guidelines] that where an expense is incurred in speaking with local media that cost should be personally borne by the member?"

According to the federal Department of Finance and Deregulation's entitlements handbook, expenses for official business such as "meetings of a government advisory committee or taskforce" or "functions representing a minister of presiding officer" are allowed for. Meetings with journalists and other members of the media are not sanctioned under the handbook's guidelines.

About News.net

Publishing Services International Limited (PSIL) is the publisher and operator of a worldwide network of online news sites dedicated to delivering fair, accurate and relevant reporting from a variety of the world’s most trusted sources – from the biggest cities to the smallest towns.

We deliver positive and powerful messages to our readers, providing up‑to‑the‑second news that matters to the individual.

Our promise is to serve communities and individuals worldwide, delivering information that hasn’t always been available to them. We will give them back a voice – a voice that’s empowering because it is theirs – and provide a platform to communicate between themselves and the world.

We believe people are not just generic demographics; they are individuals with their own preferences and curiosities. We are about understanding these individuals, listening to them, and serving them.

We are the new pioneering spirit of news – we’re not talking to everyone, we’re talking with every one.

If you want your news, your voice, your way, on your time – we’ve got news for you.

 

FAQs

Email

If you have any questions or concerns please email us on support@news.net

Phone

  • Australia, Toll Free 1-800-983-421
  • Hong Kong, Toll Free 800-906-187
  • Singapore, Toll Free 800-852-3871
  • USA/Canada, Toll Free 1-800-830-4132

Advertise With Us

Interested in being awesome?
Contact us by email or phone.

Cancel