Tasmanian politicians spend $45,000 on family travel costs

Tasmanian politicians racked up almost $45,000 in family travel costs alone in just six months. 

Parliamentarians' expenditure records show that in the six months ending June 30, 2016, Tasmanian MPs spent $44,978.98 on family travel. 

The news comes in the wake of calls for government expenditure to be more closely monitored and for information to become available sooner. 

Senator Stephen Parry, who is also president of the Senate, spent the most on family travel out of the Tasmanian politicians still in government with $10,605.75. 

This was followed by Senator Lisa Singh, spending $6,511.16, and Senator David Bushby spending $6,186.66. 

A spokesperson for Senator Parry said his wife was often called upon to host different visitors at events. 

“Mrs Parry volunteers as much time as she can to assist the Australian Commonwealth host formal programmes for international delegations,” the spokesperson said. 

“The travel to Canberra by Mrs Parry comes under the family travel budget.” 

Federal politicians are given the family travel allowance for the payment of domestic travel for their spouse or de facto partner, nominee, dependent children, or other designated people.

The entitlements for the travel of family members comes even as a Senator’s base salary is $199,040.

A spokesperson for Senator Bushby said his money was used for his wife and three children to travel to visit while he was working in Canberra.

“The family reunion entitlement is provided to allow Senators and Members to balance their work and family responsibilities whilst working in Canberra,” the spokesperson said. 

“Senator Bushby, a husband and father of three, has made use of this facility sparingly, typically using less than 25 per cent of the budgeted amount annually.” 

Several Tasmanian Senators and MHRs spent no money on family travel during the same period. 

Former International Education Minister Richard Colbeck spent $9154 on family travel, the second highest for current and former MPs. 

“If you were to take that away you would limit who could be a Member of Parliament, particularly women,” he said.

“Imagine a younger woman with kids and not being able to bring her partner up on a few occasions or their kids with them.

“I think the family travel stuff is reasonable.”