Kate Jones at the athletes village. Her accommodation was a little more upmarket during the Games. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Kate Jones at the athletes village. Her accommodation was a little more upmarket during the Games. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Premier, ministers spend $81k on swish rooms during Games

SECURITY advice dictated the premier and senior ministers stay at luxury digs during the Commonwealth Games, Treasurer Jackie Trad said today.

Ms Trad defended the $80,000 bill to taxpayers, insisting it was on the advice of police for security reasons, and at the request of the Commonwealth Games Federation that everyone stayed together.

"It was very much the advice of the Queensland Police Service and the Queensland Police Commissioner that all senior public dignitaries like the Premier (Annastacia Palaszczuk) and like the Minister for the Commonwealth Games (Kate Jones) stay in the one location with the Commonwealth Games Federation... and that's why key senior ministers stayed at that particular accommodation," Ms Trad said.

"Just the same way the Prime Minister (Malcolm Turnbull) stayed there under security advice.

"The same way that the federal Sports Minister, LNP Member Bridget McKenzie, stayed there under advice from Queensland security officials."

Ms Trad said the Games, and the trade talks that occurred during them, would make a return for the Queensland economy.

"I can understand how Queenslanders doing it tough could see that this was money that could have been spent elsewhere but, as I said, these Commonwealth Games will return to the state economy billions of dollars in private sector investment."

Overnight The Sunday Mail reported state ministers and their staff racked up a whopping $81,000 hotel bill at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games - including $720-a-night suites for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Games Minister Kate Jones at one of the Glitter Strip's swankiest resorts.

Right to Information documents obtained by the Opposition reveal taxpayers were slugged heavily for ministerial accommodation and expenses during the Games in April.

Ms Palaszczuk and Ms Jones splashed more than $20,000 on accommodation for themselves, staying for the entire two weeks of the Games at the five-star Sheraton Grand Mirage at Main Beach, the same hotel where Prince Charles and Camilla stayed to open the Games.

Accommodation for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Games Minister Kate Jones amounted to more than $10,000 each for the Games.
Accommodation for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Games Minister Kate Jones amounted to more than $10,000 each for the Games.

The two politicians and other ministers brought 17 staff, some of whom also stayed on the Coast for up to a fortnight at hotels including celebrity hotspot Peppers Broadbeach and Sea World Resort.

Taxpayers footed the bill for the Premier, senior ministers and their entourages to stay on the Coast despite the M1 being largely deserted during the Games and 24-hour train services from Brisbane.

Ms Palaszczuk even left the Coast during the Games to travel to Bundaberg and Brisbane but her Sheraton Grand Mirage suite still had to be paid for.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington slammed the spending spree as obscene.

"The Premier's priorities are all wrong. She is addicted to wasting taxpayers' money," she said. "This excessive spending is a kick in the guts for hardworking Queenslanders who are struggling to pay their bills."

The RTI documents reveal taxpayers outlaid more than $39,000 for the Premier and 12 staffers to stay on the Coast during the Games.

This included a $10,054.52 accommodation bill for Ms Palaszczuk at the Sheraton Grand Mirage from April 1, three days before the Games began, until April 15, when the mega-event ended.

Annastacia Palaszczuk and Kate Jones stayed at the Sheraton Mirage at Main Beach. Picture: Supplied
Annastacia Palaszczuk and Kate Jones stayed at the Sheraton Mirage at Main Beach. Picture: Supplied

Taxpayers were charged for a night she didn't even spend at the luxury beachfront hotel, when she went to Bundaberg on April 6 for a visit by Prince Charles and later attended a Women of the World festival reception in Brisbane.

She also claimed $1436.38 in allowances and expenses, including $8.38 for a Go Card which she used for a media stunt to promote public transport at the start of the Games.

Her staff, including two chauffeurs, spent a total of 49 room nights at the Sea World Resort in the lead-up to and during the Games, costing taxpayers $19,024 in accommodation alone.

"This eye-watering extravagance could have been easily avoided," Ms Frecklington said. "The Premier lives just 60 minutes from Carrara Stadium and could have saved tens of thousands of dollars just by staying at home and commuting each day."

Ms Jones also racked up a $10,054.52 accommodation bill at the Sheraton Grand Mirage, and claimed another $2241.85 in allowances.

Taxpayers were slugged $16,590 for accommodation for three of her staff at the Sea World Resort between April 1 and 15. They claimed a total of $5507.95 in allowances.

Transport Minister Mark Bailey's personal Games bill had not been submitted at the time of the Opposition's RTI request, but documents reveal two of his staffers stayed at the Mantra at Sharks resort at Southport for the entire Games, at a cost of $3401.64 (plus $3373.70 in allowances).

Prince Charles, Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk attend a reception before the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. Picture: Darren England/Getty Images
Prince Charles, Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk attend a reception before the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. Picture: Darren England/Getty Images

Sports Minister Mick de Brenni and his chauffeur stayed at Peppers Broadbeach, a swish hotel favoured by visiting celebrities including Taylor Swift, on April 14 at a total cost of $744.88.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe, who was dumped as Games Minister and replaced by Ms Jones, spent a night of the Games at The Star casino at a cost to taxpayers of $245.28.

The spending spree has been revealed just weeks after it emerged Ms Palaszczuk and her ministers had amassed a $1.8 million international travel bill in their first term - twice as much as the former LNP Government.

A spokesman for Ms Palaszczuk said the Sheraton Mirage accommodation for Ms Palaszczuk and Ms Jones was chosen by Games organisers "for security reasons".

"It's more efficient to provide security at one location than many," he said. "The Games was also a showcase for trade and the Premier, ministers and staff were required to attend these discussions as well as other Games events.



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