NBN fee and performance comparison - could Therapeutic Albo tell the difference?
Apologists for abusers

The protocols for politicians (but not bank tellers) to pay back wrongfully claimed money.

Glenn Milne lost his job when The Australian published a column he'd written about Ms Gillard, her man Bruce Wilson and their corrupt conduct.

A few weeks before that Glenn wrote a column that's not been widely reported.   It involves Tony Abbott's travel claims, the protocol under which Federal Parliamentarians can pay back money to avoid further action after wrongful claims, and Tony Abbott's publicity tour to promote his book Battlelines.

The Federal Department of Finance released a couple of dozen documents on Friday, 5 June 2013 under an FOI application.   You can read them all here.  

You'll have your own view about this - mine is that on the face of it, this is appalling.   It will blunt Tony Abbott's attack on Labor for its clearly corrupt behaviours and it will add to the public perception that the gravy train is alive and well for those in the know.

On 28 July, 2010, Glenn Milne wrote:

Tony Abbott probably knows where his first dollar came from. His preoccupation with how much money is coming through the door is legend in Canberra amongst his colleagues.

Indeed the first thing to come out of Abbott's mouth at the outset of the leaders' debate concerned his personal finances."This election is about a fair go for families struggling with the cost of living pressures," Abbott declared. "My wife Margie and I know what it's like to raise a family, to wrestle with a big mortgage, with grocery bills and school fees."

Immediately after John Howard's 2007 election loss Abbott dubbed the period a "grieving" phase. But Abbott was lamenting more than just the fact that the Liberals had ceded power to Kevin Rudd. He mused publicly on the shock of losing his ministerial salary, complaining he didn't know how he was going to pay the bills.

Bills of the type that might be incurred in a national book tour for example. Department of finance documents raise the serious and politically damaging possibility that Abbott used taxpayer money to promote his 2009 book, Battlelines.

The revelation follows an investigation by The Drum in which the dates of Abbott's national book promotion tour have been matched to his travel expenses claims. The dates of his promotional tour were provided by his publisher, Melbourne University Press.

Abbott's home base is Sydney where Sarah Murdoch launched Battlelines on Tuesday, July 28. Two days later, the then-Opposition frontbencher flew to Canberra, to quote MUP,"address the National Press Club (NPC) to discuss Battlelines". There was also a book signing coinciding with the event.

According to the department of finance report detailing entitlements paid to MPs and senators from July 1 to December 31 2009 and tabled in the Parliament on the eve of the election, on July 30, the day of the NPC address, Abbott billed taxpayers $504.29 for the round trip flight back to Sydney.

These are the Abbott documents the Federal Department of Finance has released under FOI.

The Finance Department wrote to Mr Abbott on 19 August, 2010, a few weeks after Glenn's article appeared.

Abbott travel 1
Abbott travel 2

Peta Credlin, Mr Abbott's Chief of Staff wrote back to say that $6,255.00 billed to the taxpayer and paid to Mr Abbott was the result of an "inadvertent" claim.   The letter says that Mr Abbott would pay back the $6,255.00.

Credlin 1
Credlin 2
Special Minister of State Gary Gray wrote back to confirm all was hunky dory under the special agreements for politicians and not bank tellers who pay the money back.   Abbott was investigated, a further $3,141.93 was found outstanding, it was paid back too and everyone is happy.

Gray 1
Gray 2


This is the protocol for politicians (but not bank tellers) who claim money they are not entitled to claim.

Protocol 1

Peter Slipper has been subject to some scrutiny about travel claims too.   Some of his claims were not dealt with under the protocol, they went to the Australian Federal Police.

Slipper afp
There are a couple of dozen files released under Freedom of Information laws on Friday, 5 June 2013 on the Federal Department of Finance website.   I daresay quite a deal of media interest will now follow. The source documents are here:


Every touch leaves its trace.   No matter who is involved.