Big spenders: Qld pollies splash $5.4m in 91 days

 

Taxpayers have picked up the tab for a government minister to print almost half-a-million promotional pamphlets, letters and brochures - a staggering 5300 each day.

Between July and September this year Gold Coast MP and government minister Stuart Robert charged taxpayers $152,793 for his office's communications which included printing 480,000 items - according to the latest quarterly parliamentary expenditure report.

On July 4 Mr Robert spent $41,580 - about $2000 more than the minimum wage - on the distribution of the items.

 

Gold Coast-based MP Stuart Robert was the highest spending Queensland politician in the three months from July to September. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Gold Coast-based MP Stuart Robert was the highest spending Queensland politician in the three months from July to September. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

A spokesman for Mr Robert said the print run was done with prior approval from the Department of Finance.

"Printing and Communications expenditure, covering the costs of engagement with local constituents, represents the bulk of the reported expenditure under the Office Administration Costs category," he said.

"Pre-approval from Finance was obtained prior to any costs being incurred for all printing items."

His exorbitant printing and communications budget made up the majority of the $280,200 he charged taxpayers for flights, cars and office facilities over three months - making him Queensland's most costly politician.

Mr Robert is no stranger to spending controversy, having been forced to repay almost $38,000 he billed taxpayers for home internet over two years.

The latest quarterly parliamentary expenditure report reveals Queensland's federal Members and Senators alone spent $5.4m in the COVID-disrupted three months between July 1 and September 30.

After a nine-week break, federal parliament resumed in August for a remote sitting, when many Members and Senators appeared via videolink.

Despite the lack of travel, the $5.4m spent by politicians was comparable to the $6.1m spent in the same period last year.

Nationals' Deputy Leader and Agriculture Minister David Littleproud was the state's second-highest spending politician.

The Dalby MP used $220,357 of taxpayer cash, with the majority spent on office facilities - including software, technology, copying and national flags.

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt, Resources and Water Minister, rounded out the high-spenders podium - billing $203,274 to taxpayers including $65,048 in distribution costs in one month.

Coalition figures make up the eight highest spenders, with Kennedy MP Bob Katter the top non-government member.

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt billed $203,274 to taxpayers including $65,048 in distribution costs in one month. Picture: Kevin Farmer
Hinkler MP Keith Pitt billed $203,274 to taxpayers including $65,048 in distribution costs in one month. Picture: Kevin Farmer

Mr Katter, whose 567,377 sqkm electorate is about eight times larger than Tasmania, spent $151,738, including $63,791 on travel and car costs.

He spent the most on travel ahead of Warwick-based Senator James McGrath - who dished out almost $50,000 for 51 nights away, domestic flights and car costs.

Labor's Sunnybank-based MP Graham Perrett was the Opposition's most expensive Queensland MP - spending $148,145 including $69,062 on thousands of printed items.

The government's most senior Queensland MP, Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, spent a total of $139,521.

 

Greens' Senator Larissa Waters was the most frugal federal parliamentarian in the three-month period.

Senator Waters used just $62,849 of taxpayer cash, with the majority spent on office expenses.

True to the Greens' values, Senator Waters passed on printing but instead spent $28,0000 on 'e-material'.

Senator Waters also charged taxpayers $38.17 for ABC presenter Julia Baird's book: Phosphorescence: On awe, wonder and things that sustain you when the world goes dark.

 

SEE HOW MUCH YOUR MP OR SENATOR SPENT

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Big spenders: Qld pollies splash $5.4m in 91 days



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