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Politicians rack up more than $101 million in expenses

AUSTRALIA'S federal politicians racked up more than $101 million in expenses in the past financial year.

A report on parliamentary entitlements for the first six months of 2012 was tabled on Thursday night before parliament rose for the year.

It revealed more than $47 million was dished out in entitlements between January and June this year and came after a bill of more than $54.7 million for the last six months of 2011, the details of which were released in June.

The 2011/12 total was about $350,000 more than the previous financial year.

Overseas travel accounted for almost $4 million of the total expenses for the first six months of 2012, or an average of $160,000 a week.

Office facilities and administration costs accounted for almost a quarter of the total.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard claimed $517,379 for overseas travel, $190,000 of which accounted for trips taken before January 1 but paid for in the first six months of this year.

Ms Gillard made trips to South Korea ($42,493), Singapore and Turkey ($137,754), the United States ($112,758) and Mexico and Brazil ($34,530) between January and June.

The Prime Minister's total entitlements came to $575,259 for the reporting period, plus an additional $202,944 in expenses incurred prior to January 1.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott received $439,647.59 in entitlements, and while he did not have any overseas travel expenses from January to June, his trip to the UK, United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan in November last year came to $7529.

Former Speaker Peter Slipper again managed a hefty overseas travel bill for the six months.

Between March and April he spent $97,000 visiting South Africa, Uganda, the United Kingdom, Russia, Kazakhstan, Hungary and the US.

His domestic travel bill, including accommodation, flights and car costs, came in at a tick over $64,000 from January to June.

It comprised more than $28,000 on domestic air travel, almost $18,000 on accommodation, $3155 on Comcars, and $8772 on 51 taxi fares. His other travel charges related to expenses before January 1.

The Sunshine Coast MP, who quit in disgrace as Speaker in October after less than a year in the job, received $296,214 in entitlements for the first six months of the year, plus more than $33,000 incurred before the reporting period.

In comparison Queensland Senator and Senate President John Hogg's entitlements came to $228,153 for the six months, plus almost $10,000 from before January 1.

Senator Hogg's overseas travel came in at almost $69,000 after be visited Belgium, France and Israel between April and May.

Kevin Rudd spent more than $237,000 on overseas travel in less than three months before quitting to challenge Ms Gillard for the Labor leadership in late February.

His total overseas travel bill came in at almost $344,000 counting expenses incurred before January 1.

The member for Griffith's entitlements totalled more than $480,000 from January to June.

Bob Carr, Mr Rudd's successor as foreign minister, spent more than $245,000 between March and June as he visited 17 countries.

Other frequent flyers included Trade Minister Craig Emerson ($345,045), Defence Minister Stephen Smith ($223,288) and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Richard Marles ($161,624).

A number of MPs spent significant sums on office fit-outs, with Queensland Labor backbencher Yvette D'Ath's $394,000 refurb the most expensive.

It was followed by Liberal Senator Chris Back ($355,726), Liberal MP Steve Irons ($336,990), Liberal Stuart Robert ($306,202) and Greens Senator Richard Di Natale ($264,905).

Topics:  expenses, julia gillard, peter slipper, politicians, tony abbott


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