Posted: 9:15 am on 13th January 2014

airplaneYou know by now, dear reader, that a new edition of the Parliamentarians’ Overseas Study Travel Reports is like another birthday for WasteWatch.

Thus it was a sad day when the overseas study travel entitlement was abolished, although accrued entitlement to taxpayer assistance for pollie-junkets will carry over into this 44th parliament.

Last year, we brought you some of our favourite report excerpts here.

This latest edition, which covers January to July of 2013, is a bit slimmer in terms of pickings.

But there’s one gem in there.

It turns out that one of WasteWatch’s favourite pollies, Victorian Labor Senator Kim Carr, had a rather nice holiday in May last year. At your expense.

Under the old rules, members of parliament were entitled to financial assistance if the trips they took were “for the purpose of undertaking studies and investigations of matters related to their duties and responsibilities as a member of parliament.”

For example, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young flew to Papua New Guinea in January last year to inspect the facilities on Manus Island. Liberal Senator David Johnston, at that time Shadow Defence Minister, travelled to the United States in February-March to meet with American defence officials and academics.

Senator Carr had a different take on the entitlement, though.

The Senator spent a week in Germany for the purpose of attending the 150th anniversary Congress of the German Social Democratic Party, during which time a “new international alliance for social democratic parties, known as the Progressive Alliance” was established, and little chats were held “to exchange information on best practice campaigning and political organisation for the advancement of social democracy.”

There aren’t many times in which a political junket is so openly recognisable in official Parliamentary documents.

According to the Senator’s report, the trip was “very beneficial in producing stronger ties between the Australian Labor Party and social democratic parties internationally.”

WasteWatch wonders if that’s very reassuring for the 66.62% of the Australian electorate — that is, the 8 and a half million adults — who didn’t vote for the ALP in the recent federal election, and yet footed the Senator’s travel bill.

Good riddance, overseas travel entitlement.

William Shrubb, Research Assistant, WasteWatch

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