Thursday, December 04, 2014

Ministerial expenses in Australia

In New Zealand, Minister's expenses are open information, released every three months. The knowledge that their spending has to be justifiable to the public has (with a few exceptions) improved Ministerial behaviour; Ministers don't spend public money on big dinners or porn because they know that if they do, they'll be on the front page of the Dominion-Post.

Meanwhile, over the Tasman its a different story:

Defence Minister David Johnston's office is in chaos, with two staff members shown the door as the Defence Department launched an investigation into a damaging leak of the minister's expense receipts.

The departure of the two staff members came on the morning that leaked receipts revealing restaurant bills racked up by Senator Johnston and his chief-of-staff Sean Costello were published in the media.


Senator Johnston's spokesman said the Defence Department was investigating the leak of the restaurant receipts, which showed that Senator Johnston and Mr Costello spent thousands of dollars last month on restaurant bills entertaining defence industry heads and foreign dignitaries.

The receipts were leaked to News Ltd in what appears to have been an effort to damage Senator Johnston and Mr Costello.

They reveal, among other things, the purchase of bottles of wine costing $190 each and meals totalling up to $300 a head.

So, Ministers rort the system, use public money for private extravagance, and sack people for blowing the whistle on their greed. No wonder Australia has gone down in the corruption rankings...