J-Bish may throw her hands in the air like she just doesn’t care, but she should know her rock star antics are at a significant cost to the Australian public.
In answering Parliamentary Questions in Writing, the Foreign Minister has been forced to reveal her party posse swelled to more than a dozen during her 2014 tour of Western Australia with Canberra-based diplomats – which came in at a total cost of over $145,000 for the 3 day event.
Seven members of the Minister’s personal staff, along with five Departmental officers, were included in the Diplomatic Corps visit, which included a range of briefings, sight-seeing and fine dining occasions, as well as the obligatory koala cuddle that seems to take place during most of the Foreign Minister’s outings.
Labor’s Waste spokesperson, Pat Conroy, said J-Bish has a reputation for taking a large crew on tour with her.
“Last year we discovered Julie Bishop had spent $125,000 on a tour of South Australia, and on that occasion she took nine staff and a few State Liberal MPs along with her. We also caught her taking three staffers along to a $350 a head dinner, clearly more than are necessary,” Mr Conroy said.
“I am absolutely gobsmacked that Julie Bishop can justify taking a dozen staff members along with her on this trip. It’s excessive, what on earth were they all doing there?”
“I’m not suggesting Diplomacy isn’t important, and yes it’s long standing practice for Foreign Ministers to engage with foreign diplomats like this; but this tour included a $10,000 lunch at a winery and close to $60,000 on chartered flights, for example.”
“When the taxpayer is footing the bill for these functions, you’ve got to consider whether every additional expense is necessary.”
“It’s just unfathomable that the Minister would take so many of her own staff along. It looks like a free ride to me.”