May 26

Creative accounting in the republican cause.



Republican politicians like to inflate the costs of what the Canadians prefer to call Royal Homecomings, or Royal Visits.

 This is done by charging back the wages of the security staff involved. As they would be employed anyway, it is difficult to see why this should be done. 

If the visit extends to New South Wales, accommodation cannot be provided in the purpose built home for our governors, so other accommodation has to be found.

 Let us not forget that the New South Wales government evicted our governors from their home because the then premier objected to the powers a governor may have over politicians through the reserve powers. 

But when it comes to their own travel, the accounting for the politicians is quite different. Creative accounting increases costs for Royal travel, but it decreases costs for the republican politicians.

Now some activities of government are normally  inexpensive. One is the signature and ratification of treaties. But there are exceptions.

…a  weekend in Bali, and the doctor came too…

It was interesting then to read of the results of Senator Minchin’s several questions about the weekend in Bali in December last year, 2007, when the Prime Minister announced Australia  would ratify the Kyoto Protocol.  As well as the Prime Minister,  five other ministers went, with twelve of their personal staff including  the Prime Minister’s doctor.

They apparently also needed  thirty five public servants to assist them.  Senator Nick Minchin, a finance minister in the previous coalition government, said that  the cost of the trip was inexcusable, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald on 22 May, 2008.

 "I think the Australian people should be absolutely appalled at this junket, to beat all junkets, (that) occurred within three weeks of the Labor party winning government," Senator Minchin  said.

 "We then had nearly half the cabinet heading off to Bali for a two-day junket to just have a talk about climate change."  

Senator Minchin questioned why it was necessary to send the prime minister, five cabinet ministers, 35 bureaucrats and 12 staff for a talk about climate change.

 "I just find it absolutely staggering," he said.

While  $39 051.67 was spent on entertainment, we have not yet been told how much the VIP aircraft used by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister cost.

Then there were the costs of a vast number of advisers to the federal government, mainly from  the states.

 It seems that in all the taxpayers funded around 100 people to be at Bali, some for more than just the weekend.

How many more were involved in preparing for it who did not go?

Then there is the work which followed, not that much was actually achieved at Bali.

 If we did the same as they do with Royalty, we should add the cost of all salaries, as well as the VIP aircraft.

So it is likely that  the Bali weekend cost well over  one million dollars,  to say nothing of the obviously large carbon footprint.

We have no view as to whether this was justified. That is not a matter on which ACM would take a position.

But let’s have some consistency with these accounts, which should not be used as an excuse to change the Constitution.

Either you add salaries or you don’t.  Let’s have honest accounting.    


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