Inside the system

Major parties close ranks to protect travel perks

Labor and the Coalition have effectively called a truce in an effort to get the scandal over parliamentary expenses off the front pages, after Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne chose not to criticise Labor’s Tony Burke over a $12,000 trip to Uluru. His whole family flew business class and claimed it as a parliamentary expense.

In the wake of Bronwyn Bishop’s downfall the major parties have decided it’s better not to go too far and wreck a good thing. And no wonder—the revelations are endless and just about everyone is in on it. Pyne himself charged $7000 for his wife and kids to travel to Canberra to watch him on the first day of parliament in 2013, and another $5000 for a six day trip to Sydney on Boxing Day in 2009.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz spent $7018 going home to Tasmania and back in a chartered flight in 2014 and Joe Hockey charged the public purse $9000 to fly his family to Perth during the 2013 Easter holidays.
Every year between 2010 and 2014, Philip Ruddock took a free trip to Cairns with his wife either in January or during a long weekend. He claims all but one of the trips were for official meetings—despite their timing.

Mark Bishop, a former Labor senator, claimed $126,350 in expenses between July 2010 and the end of his senate term last year. The entitlements don’t end when you retire either. If Bronwyn Bishop retires by the next election she will continue to get $255,000 a year from the government, plus ten free domestic return flights a year.

Warren Truss’ 21K flight

National party Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss spent over $21,000 on a chartered flight to give a speech about the virtues of the Government’s austerity budget in May last year.

The tax-payer funded cash splash was revealed after an examination of parliamentary expense claims following the revelations of Bronwyn Bishops $5000 helicopter flight.

The $21,570 charter flight between Canberra and Brisbane was booked so Truss could speak at Brisbane’s Conservative Breakfast Club. He did this despite the fact there are regular flights between the two cities. Even a business class flight is a bargain comparatively, at around $800 each way.
According to an online transcript of his address, after stepping off his chartered flight, Truss went on to say, “The Budget takes steps to ensure the government is living within its means, and to rein in the age of entitlement”.

Hillsong rakes it in

THE HILLSONG mega-Church is raking in over $100 million a year according to recent financial reports. Its tax-exempt status as a religious charity means it doesn’t have to pay a cent of tax on the millions it makes from music royalties and its childcare and tuition services. When asked by the Telegraph Hillsong would not reveal the salary of its Senior Pastor Brian Houston. A spokesperson described the tens-of-millions in donations the church sucks-up from its 34,000 followers as “giving a percentage of income to God”.

UK puts three-year-old on extremism register

The UK government has placed a three-year-old on its anti-extremism register, according to a report by the Independent. The government’s so-called “Channel” process is part of de-radicalisation program to which hundreds of under 18s have been referred since September 2014. The three-year-old is part of an East London family targeted for “suspect behaviour”.

The shocking revelation coincides with the passing of the draconian Counter-Terrorism and Security Act in the UK. Unbelievably, the bill was accompanied by a 39 page consultation document that directs childminders and nursery school staff watching toddlers to “identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism”.

Luxury car sales hit record high

Australian luxury vehicle sales hit a record in the 12 months leading up to May, says Commsec. Its Luxury Vehicle Index leapt 16.7 per cent compared to the previous year. The index includes a parade of luxury car names—Audi, Aston Martin, BMW, Bentley, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Lexus, Maserati, Maybach, Mercedes-Benz, McLaren, Porsche and Rolls Royce. Rising house prices are making homes unaffordable for most of us, but they’re a boon for the rich who have more spare cash to burn than ever.

Charter flights all the rage for the rich

It’s no surprise Bronwyn Bishop has such a taste for helicopter rides. Charter rides on helicopters and private jets are gaining in popularity among the filthy rich, according to charter operators.
The Financial Review says, “A staggering 1200 people descended from the sky over four days at last year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival, despite the price tag of $390 for a one-way, five-minute ride from Melbourne City to Flemington Racecourse.”
Helicopter rides have joined trips by private jet as an “affordable luxury”, according to the Financial Review. After all, it’s just $10,000 to $12,000 for a return trip by jet from Sydney to Melbourne.

German company top tax evader in Greece

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble have spearheaded attempts to make Greek workers pay for the bankers’ crisis since 2008. But Greece’s biggest tax evader is a German company, according to an Athens court.

A giant German construction company, Hochtief, ran the Athens International Airport until 2013. The airport opened in 2001 and since then Hochtief refused to pay Value Added Taxes to the tune of $750 million, as well as evading its contributions to social security.

Some estimates suggest that combined these outstanding payments could top $1.5 billion. The latest bailout program approved by the Tsipras government included a VAT increase from 13 per cent to 23 per cent. This will be a crippling blow to ordinary people already struggling under the weight of previous austerity programs. Meanwhile Germany’s elite are living it up with stolen tax dollars.

Things they say

It just beggars belief that there isn’t something that, in the unlikely event Corbyn wins…is done swiftly and quickly to restore the party to its sense.

John McTernan, former adviser to Tony Blair and Julia Gillard, on Jeremy Corbyn’s run for British Labour leader

Yeah but who cares about the grassroots?

McTernan shows his concern for the views of Labour Party members

Abbott is a fine friend who sticks through the hard times. I admire him for it and have been a beneficiary of it.

Andrew Bolt, News Limited columnist, defends Abbott after he sacked his ‘friend’ Brownyn Bishop.

Neither Mr Pyne nor his family have ever seen the New Year’s Eve Sydney fireworks.

A spokesperson for Education Minister Christopher Pyne explaining away his travel claim for his family to visit Sydney over New Year’s Eve in 2010

There are no crooks in politics, in my judgment

Government frontbencher Peter Dutton isn’t too concerned about travel rorts

Sure, it raised some money for the local party, but it was an opportunity to learn more about the way our country works

Tony Abbott thinks Liberal Party fundraisers will give him an insight into the country’s inner workings

Lots of homosexuals don’t want to get married, Dolce & Gabbana never got married

Eric Abetz, using his deep knowledge of what LGBT people want to try to sway the Coalition party room

I can remember my own university debates with gay friends and the idea that the gay community would in those days have wanted to embrace a bourgeois institution like marriage would have been unthinkable, but things change.

Tony Abbott on AM

Magazine

Solidarity meetings

Latest articles

Read more

Israeli attack on UNRWA aid another genocidal act

Israel’s allegations against the UNRWA aid organisation in Gaza have been rapidly exposed as lies.

ZIM, blockades and the unions: Lessons from Webb Dock

For almost four days in January protest action with workers refusing to cross the community picket succeeded in preventing work on the ZIM shipping-line at Webb Dock in Melbourne.

Teachers won’t be silenced on Palestine

More than 70 Victorian teachers and school staff attended a forum “Teachers for Palestine: why there’s no ‘neutrality’ on genocide” on 22 January, despite the Opposition Education spokesperson calling for the Education Department to discipline attendees.