Labor senator’s $100k travel expenses queried
BILL Shorten's election campaign is facing a damaging setback tonight after one of his senators referred herself to the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority over serious questions over more than $100,000 in mostly business-class flights.
Northern Territory senator Malarndirri McCarthy has tonight referred herself to the authority after The Courier-Mail asked her to explain why she had spent more than 100 nights in Sydney outside Parliament sittings since 2016.
But Senator McCarthy claimed travel allowance for fewer than 20 nights, raising questions why taxpayers had stumped up for so many business class airfares to Sydney.
While Senator McCarthy needs to fly in to Sydney from Darwin, many of her trips were when Parliament was not in session in the week before or after, and she had no committee hearings.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Senator McCarthy has spent at least 120 nights in Sydney since being elected to the Senate in July 2016.
Senator McCarthy has travelled to Sydney on at least 65 occasions.
She has claimed $9048 in travel allowance for 27 nights at $135 to $412 per night.
The cost of all of Senator McCarthy's flights to and from Sydney from all locations where the journey was broken in Sydney amounts to $110,000
Other costs incurred by Senator McCarthy including hire cars, but excluding Comcars, and taxis in Sydney amount to $1,566.37
In the same period of time Senator McCarthy has only spent:
* 24 nights in Alice Springs
* 10 nights in Katherine
* Six nights in Tennant Creek
* Two nights in Nhulunbuy
* Six nights in other NT locations
Initially, in a statement to The Courier-Mail, a spokeswoman for Senator McCarthy said: "Senator McCarthy's travel has all been undertaken within the rules of the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority.
"Senator McCarthy has sometimes spent time in Sydney when travelling between the NT and Parliament to undertake medical treatment with a long-term medical specialist.
"Her medical issue also necessitates a break in travel."
But when The Courier-Mail asked whether she had used business-class airfares on the taxpayer to fly to Sydney for her undisclosed treatment, she said in a statement: "I am absolutely confident that all travel has been undertaken within the rules, but to remove any doubt, I have immediately asked the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority."
Country Liberal Party candidate for Lingiari Jacinta Price said" "Malarndirri has a lot of explaining to do and a number of serious questions to answer.
"She's been caught wasting over $100,000 on business-class flights to Sydney, and seems to be the Senator for Sydney rather than a Senator for the Northern Territory.
"To spend more than 120 nights in Sydney in two-and-a-half years seems beyond comprehension, but this is typical of Territory Labor who have taken Territorians, and especially Aboriginal Territorians, for granted for so long."