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September 2013

Julia Gillard flew to norther NSW on a taxpayer funded VIP jet for a staffer's wedding

Here's News Limited with this report from 23 March 2013

Julia jets off to a VIP wedding

FRESH from being returned in a farcical leadership spill, Julia Gillard yesterday flew to northern NSW on a taxpayer funded VIP jet for a staffer's wedding and several low key announcements.

Ms Gillard, along with Treasurer Wayne Swan and Finance Minister Penny Wong, will today attend the Byron Bay wedding of her press secretary Laura Anderson and Mr Swan's chief-of-staff Jim Chalmers.

Her office confirmed the PM flew to northern NSW on a RAAF VIP Challenger aircraft.

MPs are only entitled to use the RAAF special purpose flights for "commitments associated with their official responsibilities and other purposes including parliamentary business".

They cannot be used by any member of parliament for purely personal business, Ms Gillard's spokesman said. He said Ms Gillard's attendance at the wedding was sandwiched between official duties scheduled for the weekend in northern NSW, Melbourne and Sydney.

Mr Swan made his own way to the wedding and did not use a VIP jet. Yesterday, Ms Gillard and local MP Justine Elliot - a Kevin Rudd loyalist - held a press conference at Titenbar at the side of a new stage of the Pacific Highway duplication, which started in October and is not due to be completed until the end of next year. The federal government contributed $560 million to the 17km upgrade.

Ms Gillard was asked how long she had been planning her visit.

"I've been talking to Justine for quite some time about coming up locally. So it fitted into the program and we wanted to get it done," she said.

Ms Gillard was asked about campaigning with a known Rudd supporter in Ms Elliot.

"Justine is a great Labor member, a great local representative of these communities in the parliament and I've always enjoyed travelling here and spending time with Justine," she said.

PhilB, who accurately predicted last Thursday's HMAS Ballarat activity, here with new asylum seeker air movements

I think the new government thinks VH-NLK was getting a bit easy to spot.

Here's PhilB

Playing round on Flightaware this morning and fell over this - I wondered why VH-NLK had not been flying to Nauru - this is not the full answer but shows the Government being sneaky - this is an A319 aircraft supposedly operated by the RAAF according to the flight plans I looked at but it could be a charter. Now I know from Refugee Watch 80 asylum seekers were removed from Christmas Island last week - here are the flight details that coincide with that operation - ASY 1081 - Darwin to Hedland, Hedland to CI, CI to Darwin, Darwin to Manus Island, Manus to Darwin. Will keep you posted

RAAF 319


According to Fairfax a politicians expenses in meeting with journalists are not work-related expenses

I reckon a dose of salts might be about to go through Canberra.

Fairfax's Sun-Herald has published a story today about then Senators Barnaby Joyce and George Brandis QC.

The crux of Fairfax's story is that a member of the Federal Parliament should not be reimbursed expenses for meeting with, travelling to see, or any other travelling expenses associated with attending on journalists.

To quote the Sun-Herald story

The federal Department of Finance's guidelines state MPs are allowed to claim travel and accommodation expenses for official business including ''meetings of a government advisory committee or taskforce'' or ''functions representing a minister or presiding officer''. Meeting with journalists is not a purpose sanctioned by the guidelines.

I would like to know how many parliamentary expense claims have been approved for out of state attendees on Q and A, Lateline, or any of a range of other TV or radio shows or interviews with journalists/magazines/receivers of leaks.

On Sunday, 4 December last year Barnaby Joyce appeared to be questioned on The Bolt Report on Channel 10.   Channel 10 does not have a studio at St George in Queensland.   It's hundreds of miles from any major centre.   What's a Federal Parliamentarian supposed to do?  Refuse to appear?   Barnaby Joyce travelled to Sydney to appear on the program, working the weekend as usual and he put in other appointments as well - away from his family.   No extra pay for that by the way, but Fairfax would have him pay his travel costs out of his own pocket.

Barnaby st george

Barnaby joyce on bolt

Barnaby also attended my wedding that day.   He didn't claim his accommodation expenses that night.   He did have some Commonwealth Car expenses during that day and the next. 

My wife and I paid for Senator Brandis and Senator Joyce's car transfers to and from the wedding - see the correspondence at the bottom of this post.

The SunHerald article reports in the same snarly tone that Senator Joyce claimed the cost of a flight to Moree the next day.

Senator Brandis later claimed $349 in ''official business'' entitlements for overnight trips and designed to cover accommodation, meals and incidentals. Mr Joyce did not claim that entitlement.

Mr Joyce claimed a flight to Moree the next day and about $500 worth of charges for the use of a Commonwealth car on the day of the wedding. He said he could not recall whether he had other meetings that day but defended the use of public resources to attend the wedding.

I know that Barnaby Joyce was on the road yesterday, Saturday, away from his office.   I was on the road too.    The SunHerald's journalist rang me for the first time yesterday and Barnaby told me that the first he knew about the story was yesterday when the journalist got in touch with him.   Could you remember what else you did on 4 December, 2011 when you're out in the car on a Saturday 2 years later with the kids and no diary?

But Fairfax had its grab, "Senator Joyce could not recall whether he had any other meetings that day..."   And the story is going off in luvvy land and Twitter.

On the day in question, Sunday, 4 December 2011 Barnaby was up early, he'd done Bolt's show, travelled up to near Gosford, met with 12 journalists who all bent his and Senator Brandis's ears - there was Jason Morrison, Paul Murray, me, my wife (a Section Editor with the Australian Financial Review) the legal affairs editor from the AFR, the iPad editor from the AFR and many other journalists from other newspapers etc.

Senator the Honourable George Brandis QC gave an impassioned speech about freedom of the press and the pusillanimity and flagrant mendacity of some media proprietors.   If he'd given it at the Fairfax editors conference, there would be no drama.    Prime Minister Gillard attended at the News Limited editors conference just 4 months earlier and there was no drama.  

When asked about the meeting earlier on Tuesday, Ms Gillard said other prime ministers and opposition leaders had attended similar meetings in the past.

"Such meetings have been addressed by prime ministers and opposition leaders in the past, so when I was invited by Mr Hartigan, I accepted the invitation," she said.

I can tell you that the journalists at our wedding did not simply see George Brandis and Barnaby Joyce as normal wedding guests.   George and Barnaby do not have the luxury of anonymity.  Every move they make is analysed and reported on as it was that night too.

So after a big night, early the next day Barnaby Joyce flies to Moree where he's involved in water negotiations/discussions to get harangued, like always, by media.   That's how the populace get their messages Fairfax, from the media, decreasingly from you.   Is it your interpretation of the Guidlines for Conservative Politician Expense Reimbursement that where an expense is incurred in speaking with local media that cost should be personally borne by the member?

Barnaby in southern queensland

If I was going on a fishing trip with my mates like Barnaby and that got charged to the taxpayer, I'd be aghast and shocked.   That would be wrong.   But those blokes were at my wedding in a representative role and they did not demur in any way from their paid elected role as prominent Federal Parliamentarians whose every action was being scrutinised and reported by the some of the large number of journalists who were present.  Some of the guests were tweeting about what George and Barnaby were doing. I don't fill out their expense claims but I don't think the circumstances of either man's claim is unreasonable.  

Finally, my wife and I paid for Senator Brandis and Senator Joyce's car transfers from their accommodation to our wedding.  There was no cost to the taxpayer.   I do not know how Katarina did it!

From: Katarina Kroslakova  
Date: 2 December 2011 14:46
Subject: RE: Trip sheet
To: Sarah Johnston


i know yay!!!!
thanks so much for everything, i am SO relaxed and cruisy about it all - everyone at work is like " are you stressed?"
um, nope. angel lady has everything covered.
phone no.s and staffer details:
George Brandis:

Tanya Morgan | Personal Assistant 

Senator the Honourable George Brandis, S.C.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate | Shadow Attorney-General | Shadow Minister for the Arts


Barnaby Joyce:

Hayley W

Office/Diary Manager

Office of Senator Barnaby Joyce | Leader of the Nationals in the Senate | LNP Senator for Queensland

Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Water

PO Box 628, St George Q 4487 |P

Will do the payola now.

From: Sarah J
Sent: Friday, 2 December 2011 2:32 PM
To: Katarina Kroslakova
Subject: FW: Trip sheet 

Okay take 2.


Towncars have advised that your credit card has not been charged.


Are you able to call Kristy and complete the payment? I’ve set the return trip for 10.30. They will need to call the driver if they wish to stay longer and that’s fine (as long as it’s not past midnight, otherwise a surcharge will apply)


Also are you able to advise the mobile phone numbers for both gentlemen – if either of them are MIA I’ll just send them a text message saying their car has arrived and is waiting for them to depart. If we could have them waiting in the lobby at 3.45 that would be great. The driver has my number, and I’ve asked them to call me if they have any dramas.


Thanks so much, sorry for the screw up. Annoyed that we couldn’t do this cheaper for you :S




Im so excited, this is THE wedding of the year me dear :D


From: Office Admin [mailto:[email protected]] 
Sent: Friday, 2 December 2011 2:22 PM
Subject: Trip sheet



Good Afternoon


Please find attached your trip sheet for travel, can you please double check all information is correct with our data.


We do require full payment ASAP, otherwise the vehicle will not leave the dock until paid in Full


If I can assist you with anything else please feel free to contact either myself or Kim



Kind Regards


Office Manager

High Class Limousines

3254 Barnaby Joyce 4th Dec 11 return_001
NB - all MPs expenses for that period can be found here.  

Something to show people who still say Ms Gillard is not under investigation by Police

I still hear people say that it's a smear and false to state that police are investigating Ms Gillard's involvement in The AWU Scandal.

Two lawyers worked in the Slater and Gordon Industrial Relations unit during The AWU Scandal, former PM Julia Gillard, and Bernard Murphy who was made a Federal Court Judge by Gillard's Government.

On 15 May this year a Warrant to Search Slater and Gordon's offices was issued by the Melbourne Magistrates' Court for the following things:

Warrant details


The following application to the Magistrates' Court by the detective sergeant in charge of the investigation was part heard on 2 September, 2013 and is listed for further hearing on 15 October, 2013.

The key points are:

  • The Court directed police to search for files relating personally to Ms Gillard and others.
  • Police will argue that documents they have seized that are potentially subject to a claim of client legal privilege were created by Bruce Wilson and/or solicitor(s) at Slater and Gordon in the furtherance of fraud.

Ross application
Ross application 2
Ross application 3

This is the desal plant at Kurnell. Doesn't work, doesn't matter, still costs $500,000 per day.

The Snowy Mountains Scheme historical cost $1 Billion.  NPV about $7 billion.

Wonthaggi desal plant (28 year Vic Govt commitment) $23.9 billion nominal, NPV of  $6.4 billion.

When did the craziness set in?   Here's a plant we prepared earlier at Kurnell.   Does nothing except there's a dot matrix line printer in the corner office that prints out an invoice for $500,000 every day.   A bloke tears it off, puts it in an envelope and sends it to the people of NSW.   That's the deal.

White elephant

Here's the ABC last night

Sydney's privatised desalination plant, which is costing residents more than $500,000 a day to keep on standby, will not be needed for at least another four or five years.

The sale of the plant last year to a private company for $2.3 billion means residents are locked into paying about $10 billion in fees for the next 50 years, whether the plant is operating or not.

Not one drop of water has come out of the Kurnell facility since it stopped operating more than a year ago.

With dam levels at 93.4 per cent, the plant has been placed into "water security" mode, a long-term shutdown which is likely to continue for some time.

"My best estimate is it will still be about four to five years before we turn the desalination plant on," Sydney Water's managing director Kevin Young told 7.30 New South Wales.

But the meter has not stopped ticking over for Sydney Water customers.

Every day they are paying more than $500,000 in what is known as an availability charge.

"We pay an availability charge whether we use water or not. That is equivalent to around $200 million a year," Mr Young said.

Here are some of the genii who overcomplicate things so you end up with things like this instead of beautiful dams and lakes.


Water symposium_001
Water symposium_003

Customs Vessel Triton given permission to enter Indonesian waters to return Indonesia's crew and passengers

Here's part of the ABC's report

Meanwhile, Australian authorities are attempting to return a second group of asylum seekers to Indonesia after rescuing them at sea.

The Australian Customs ship, ACV Triton, has been given permission to enter Indonesian waters to offload 31 asylum seekers rescued overnight.

It will be the second time since yesterday that Australian rescue authorities have returned asylum seekers to Indonesia.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) told its Indonesian equivalent Basarnas the "preference is for a transfer at sea" to Indonesian authorities.

Last bit of the HMAS Ballarat story from Thursday

You'll recall we started Thursday morning with HMAS Ballarat making top speed and Co 327 direct to the Sunda Strait.   PhilB is the legend who plotted and predicted, including alternate scenarios which included the merchantman MV Ocean Ace hove to over the Java Trench possibly for a bit of recreational adrenaline generation by crew, swimming over a few mile column of water.


Now we know HMAS Ballarat was doing what all good neighbours would do, helping out the people next door with their problem.   Indonesia had  a spot of bother with one of her boats, it was taking water after it had departed an Indonesian port with Indonesian crew so we helped Indonesia.

The Australian saw it this way:

INDONESIA has confirmed an Australian navy rescue of asylum-seekers which Australian officials, operating under the Coalition's day-to-day information blackout, refused to acknowledge. Forty four Pakistani asylum-seekers, including four children, and two crew were brought to Indah Kiat port at Banten in Java at about 8am today, according to Indonesian police and rescue officers.They were rescued yesterday by HMAS Ballarat near the southern mouth of the Sunda Strait after the engine on their fishing boat failed and it began taking water.Ballarat was met late last night by an Indonesian coast guard vessel in the strait, southwest of Indah Kiat and close to Indonesia's 12 nautical mile territorial boundary.Australian Maritime Safety Authority was originally alerted the boat was in possible danger early yesterday and informed Basarnas, the Indonesian search and rescue authority. However, following permission from the Indonesians, Ballarat was sent to find the vessel and rescue those on board.Inquiries by The Australian yesterday were passed by AMSA to Customs to the office of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, which did not respond.Some details of the incident are expected to be released on Monday when the weekly briefing instituted by Mr Morrison, in place of announcements of incidents and boat arrivals as they happen, will be held.A request for information or confirmation from Mr Morrison's office today remained unanswered at 2pm (AEST). –

Sky News has more on this rescue and other tragedies suffered by Indonesia lately.  It's good to see Australia helping Indonesia with her boats, crew and their passengers.