Barnaby fires up over ‘malicious’ attack on love nest rent
CONTROVERSIAL Federal MP Barnaby Joyce has been using a bank account set up to manage his electorate allowance to pay the rent for his Armidale home.
A furious Mr Joyce slammed what he called a "malicious and false" attack on his integrity and defended the use of the account, saying it was for "multiple purposes" and received deposits from a range of sources, including sheep sales on his family farm.
Just days after Mr Joyce staunchly defended the use of politicians' electorate allowances, The Sunday Mail can reveal the former deputy prime minister has this year made regular deposits of more than $400 a week into the account of a real estate agent in Armidale, where he now lives with new partner Vikki Campion and their two infant children.
Federal politicians receive up to $46,000 a year in electorate allowances, designed to help them engage with their constituents, but under parliamentary guidelines they are allowed to retain any unspent funds.
Former Senator Derryn Hinch has called for an end to the "rorting'' of electorate expenses while the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance wants politicians to come clean on all their allowance expenses.
While the loophole has attracted community anger, Mr Joyce defended the payments, saying he worked hard for his money and would earn more working as an accountant.
The Sunday Mail understands Mr Joyce has this year made regular deposits of $415 a week to First National Real Estate Armidale from a bank account which receives almost $4000 a month in electoral allowance payments.
Under parliamentary guidelines, Mr Joyce is eligible for the maximum $46,000 in annual electorate allowances due to the large area of his New England seat.
Mr Joyce, who has previously been cleared of claims he misused travel allowances, said the account was used for many purposes and also received income from other sources, including farming transactions.
"This bank account was given this name in 2005, but it has long since been used for multiple purposes and is used for farm business, private and electorate transactions, as are other accounts I hold, including my private credit card, which is also used to pay electorate expenses," he said in a statement.
"Income is transacted to this account from a range of other accounts I hold and non-parliamentary sources including, for example, sheep sales. I am extremely disappointed that someone would disclose a misrepresentation of my private financial affairs for malicious and false purpose."
He said he would now rename the account "Account Number 2".
Appearing on morning television this week, Mr Joyce defended the use of electorate expenses and said he didn't know if he used all of his allowance, but "I pay tax on whatever I don't".
Satya Marar, director of policy at the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance, described it as "sloppy accounting at best".
"Which is ironic because he actually was an accountant," he said.
"However, the rules not only permit this sort of behaviour, they effectively, actively encourage it because if you're not spending it for electorate purposes, you can … pocket it as a lump sum."
BARNABY JOYCE TIMELINE
- 2004: Elected to the Senate after the Federal election.
- 2013: Switched to House of Representatives, winning the seat of New England.
- 2015: As agriculture minister, Mr Joyce warns Hollywood star Johnny Depp his dogs Boo and Pistol would be euthanised if they did not 'bugger off' back to the US after being imported illegally.
- 2016: Appointed deputy prime minister.
- 2017: Forced to step down and recontest a by-election after revelations he was a dual citizen of New Zealand. He retains his seat.
- 2017: Separates from wife Natalie.
- 2018: Confirms reports of an affair with staffer Vikki Campion and resigns as deputy PM.
- 2018: Former PM Malcolm Turnbull orders an investigation in to Mr Joyce's use of travel allowances. He is cleared of any wrongdoing.
- 2019: Questions raised over Mr Joyce using an account labelled 'electorate allowance account' to pay rent at his Armidale home. He denies any wrongdoing.