Hey Big Spender

Posted: July 15, 2012 in Politics

With the world’s economies seemingly in free fall, maybe it is time we tightened our belts a bit.

It’s probably about time we learned to live within our budgets, and not spend money on unnecessary items.

It’s not just politicians either, households are starting to cut back on certain things. This has been apparent in retail figures for quite a while now, with discretionary items sitting on the shop shelf gathering dust.

Pity the poor salesperson who has to try to sell stock that is unsaleable in this economic climate. Stores can mark items down to virtually nothing and still see them just sit there going nowhere. Items like the one pictured below are clearly worth less than nothing, and despite being virtually given away, are yet to find a sucker to buy it. Hardly worth the cost of the garbage bag it will end up in.

Some things you just can’t give away

With this in mind, there is one political party that has assured us it will “stop the boats” and “end the waste”. That is the Liberal Party, Tony Abbott repeats those slogans like they are his personal mantra, and they probably are.

I don’t want to delve into his promise to “Stop The Boats”, except to point out the obvious.

If the boats stop, what do we need Nauru for? There would be nobody to send there, surely, without the boats continuing.

Also, if there are no boats, what is it that our Navy is going to be turning around or towing back to Indonesia? Planes? Cars?

I also want to know, what will happen to the legendary boatphone?

It seems to me, Tony Abbott doesn’t have a lot of confidence in his own policy… It does seem to be rather contradictory.

Anyway…

On to the waste that the Liberal Party plans to end. As I mentioned before, with the worlds financial status unstable, to say the least, waste is something we best avoid.

The Liberals have argued that the money spent on schools by the Labor government as part of its stimulus, and Building The Education Revolution, BER, was waste. Who can argue with that? Things like school halls, libraries, and classrooms, are clearly a waste of taxpayer dollars. It is far better to spend the money on valuable educational needs of schools, like John Howard did. In John Howard’s and the Liberals 13 years in power they spent wisely, buying flagpoles for schools. A hard act to follow indeed…

In order to obtain an idea of waste, maybe we should look to our past Prime Ministers. To do this I will take a look at what they spend as their entitlements. This comes from taxpayer dollars, and should give us an idea of which of our 2 major parties understand waste, and which of these 2 parties chooses to waste taxpayer dollars.

Below is a link to a summary of the cost of entitlements spent on the 5 previous PM’s in the 6 months between 1st July and 31st December 2011.

PM Entitlement Payments

I know what your thinking, you probably don’t need to look at them… If the Liberal PM’s didn’t spend more I wouldn’t mention it, right?

You may well be right, and yes 2 Liberal ex PM’s did manage to vastly outspend 3 Labor ex PM’s, however that’s not really what I wanted to talk about.

I don’t think spending money on our ex Prime Minister’s is all bad, in fact I think they deserve it. I wanted to talk about a real waste issue.

To get a real sense of what is waste, and what isn’t, it’s probably best to look at somebody with a financial background. Seeing as though the Liberal Party like to accuse the Labor Party of wastage, it’s probably best to look at one of their former ministers.

Who better than Helen Coonan?

Helen Coonan was a Federal MP for 15 years. She has been Minister for Revenue, and Assistant Treasurer, Inspector General Of Taxation, and finally Minister for Communications, Information Technology, and The Arts. She calls herself an economist, although her degree is in law.

Helen Coonan, is also a member of HR Nicholls Society, a member of the board of Crown Casino’s, and a regular on any talk show that will have her.

Coonan, daydreaming of office decor?

With her background, she should know a thing or two about waste. One would also assume that as a Liberal Party member, and as a talk show regular criticising Labor for their supposed waste, that she would be careful with her spending.

You would be wrong.

During the same 6 month period as our former PM’s, you may be interested to know that many of our ex MP’s spent anywhere between $500 and $6,000 in entitlements, not Coonan.

You may be shocked to think that during this 6 month period, that Coonan, in a concerted bid to show how not to waste taxpayer money, spent over $250,000. That’s over a quarter of a million dollars, your dollars, our dollars, taxpayer dollars.

That is more than 3 Labor Prime Minister’s, Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke, and Paul Keating…combined.

What may shock you even more is the figure spent by Coonan is actually a whoppingly obscene $474,245.53

Below is a link to her official entitlement expenditure for the period, with a breakdown on page 7.

Helen Coonan Entitlements Report

I hope that you work in a nice office, Coonan does. In fact she spent a frankly ridiculous, $414,205.25 on an office fit out.

One of the cheaper office designs Coonan is believed to have rejected

Next time you see her self-satisfied smirk on Q&A, bear that in mind. Next time you hear her criticise, well, anyone really, remember this is the person who is so full of her own self-importance, she thinks she is worth more than 5 Prime Ministers.

If the Liberal Party has any dignity at all, they should expel Coonan from the party. She shows the side of the Liberal Party that most people fear. The side that has no interest in what is best for the country, only their own personal gain and ego.

Crown also, should show they have respect for the taxpayers that fill their casino’s each night, and throw her off their board. They are trying to open a Casino in Sydney, while showing support to someone who is trying to milk the taxpayer dry. This is not a good look.

If this is how the Liberal Party deal with waste, we best brace ourselves for hard times.

I think that I have discovered some waste myself… It is the space that Coonan fills, and the oxygen she uses up breathing.

I’m sure both of these things could be put to far better use.

Quite sure in fact.

Comments
  1. debbiep says:

    Thank you for bring this to our awareness.

    • wixxy says:

      My pleasure.
      It is also interesting that spending over $400K of taxpayer money on an office refit in just 6 months, is more than what a lot of Natioanl Party members would spend on their house in a lifetime, many of course coming from rural areas

  2. debbiep says:

    Tells you a lot about their priorities to live in style while others suffer .

  3. LisaV says:

    Yeah, well, she always struck me as a ‘high maintenance’ type bird. Isn’t there an auditting process or some other means of preventing this type of wastage?

  4. Sue says:

    Wixxy

    Quick let Steve Lewis of the Telegraph know, he loves to write up about MP’s who waste the public purse. Just title the scoop:
    Slipper, more waste this time by a former mate.

  5. jaycee says:

    Perhaps, Coonan, like many lib’ ministers, is just practicing for when she REALLY gets her hands on the loot!….after all, the whole party are in reality just stooges for the banks!

  6. George says:

    So are the details of the work done on the “office fit-out”, over $400K, available? What size office? What the heck was done?

  7. Min says:

    Hypocrisy abounds..thank you Pete..again, another brilliant investigative effort.

  8. Marilyn says:

    Must be a gold plated penthouse. She sure knows how to spend doesn’t she, that is over 400% more than the liberals whine about Thomson supposedly spending in 5 years.

  9. Catching up says:

    Waste like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    It is only waste, if it is about what Labor spends.

    It is not about the amount spent.

    It is about what it is spent on.

    The Liberals seem to have problems spending that benefits all.

    Governments of all colours spend roughly the same.

  10. Marilyn says:

    I wonder if Abbott is going to stop the boats on Sydney Harbour.

  11. Sharyne Mendoza says:

    Hey Pete: trust you’re well. I read most of your blogs but found this one particularly interesting. I hate the waste. Both parties are totally guilty of this somewhere down the line. The BER though….I think you’re stretching it a tad….there was a hell of a lot of waste – everyone had their hand in the pie. Schools received buildings they didn’t require, work was proved to be average and yes, I recall that a report was done to say it could have been done better. Anyway, I’ve never been a real fan of Ms Coonan….seems a tad uppity for my liking however, the image you have shown as an example of a “cheaper office design” is actually an image from a Web Site Design Company located in the States. Nothing to do with decorating, it’s just a shot they loaded. It’s a bit misleading isn’t it? Perception can be harmful, just wondering if I’m wrong?

    • wixxy says:

      Hi Sharon, yep all is well…
      Yes, there has been some waste with the BER, but overall the amount questioned as waste was just under 3% Not bad for something rolled out quickly as part of a stimulus package.
      As for the image, you are probably right, I can’t remember, but I think everybody realises that the image and caption are a joke…
      There are Labor MP’s who are also wasteful no doubt, but Coonan was extreme…
      The ALP also did not run on the slogan of “Ending The Waste”

      We should catch up soon, haven’t seem you for ages…

  12. denniallen says:

    Yes Wixxy..you are right …it was just 3% …considering the Billions spent the BER was extremely effective – certainly kept thousands in work. I know thousands of schools around the country who were extremely grateful for their new buildings. At least they got new classrooms, libraries etc…Coonan spent nearly $1/2M on her own office…the LNP know no boundaries when it comes to extravagance on themselves

  13. Frank says:

    Do not forget that the GFC is still not over yet (except for the mines) so do not slam the liberals for participating with their own economic stimulus…they only forgot to brand it as such…

  14. Min says:

    Dennniallen, and not only classrooms and libraries but VIP were disabled toilets which allowed children with physical disabilities to be able to attend school with their peers. No $ figure should even enter into the equation.

  15. BSA Bob says:

    “a high maintenance type” sums up what I always thought of her. A real born to ruler unable to conceal her disdain for those she ruled.
    On the subject of Labor “waste”. I’ve long thought the media campaign against this Labor government can be traced at least that far back. Day after day this shocking waste was revealed, exclusively, it seemed, the government’s fault with nary a mention or expose of the rorters. No doubt because they make valuable footsoldiers for the Right.

  16. lynot says:

    Coonan uses a public post to address private matters
    December 14 2002

    Senator Coonan: my building renovations started on July 2 last year. The builder said the job would take 20 weeks. He went broke. The second builder is slow, slow, slow. It is December 13, 2002, and the job isn’t finished. May I please have some of your letterheads?

    J. O’Brien, Seven Hills, December 13.

    Just so we’re all clear, could the PM please tell us exactly what constitutes a “hanging offence” under his ministerial code of conduct?

    Kathrina Lo, Camperdown, December 13.

    I have just completed my Christmas shopping with mixed results. The jeweller had bought a job lot and was offering two for one, so I picked up two gold watches, one for Ray Williams and one for Rodney. The blue-and-white-striped salary caps were slightly shopsoiled so I could afford half a dozen for me mates on the Bulldogs’ board.

    I was thrilled with the purchase of the family tree for Peter Jensen, particularly as it came with a bag of nepotism that the fellow at the tree shop assured me would help it grow.

    The embossed notepaper looked fantastic, but regrettably Helen Coonan could not remember what address I should have printed on it.

    Unfortunately I feel I could have done better than the dummies I bought for Cheryl, Natasha and Carmen, but with a bit of luck someone may have a better suggestion.

    Bill Carpenter, Bowral, December 13.

    No, Mr Howard, you should be saying that the use of ministerial letterheads for personal matters is a hanging offence – figuratively speaking.

    You and other political leaders should be saying that you will not tolerate such self-serving behaviour from people who already enjoy considerable privilege and comfort. Only then will you begin to earn that respect that has been so dramatically lost in recent years, from a public that is heartily tired of such selfishness.

    Iris Freeman, Barnsley, December 13.

    To the ordinary man in the street it would be very hard not to conclude, given the subject matter and content of the letters to her local council written by Senator Coonan on parliamentary letterhead, that she was not trying to intimidate Woollahra Council. Or, at the very least, impress upon the council the fact that it was dealing with a federal parliamentarian and should therefore give her due or special consideration.

    Being a lawyer, Senator Coonan of all people should know that even where no bad faith was intended there must also be the appearance of no bad faith. This was not the case in her dealings with the council.

    Fred Jansohn, Rose Bay, December 13.

    Could Senator Coonan please explain the obvious contradiction in your report (“Fix it, she wrote: Coonan’s big repair job”, Herald, December 12) that “an examination of documents relating to the building and subsequent insurance claim shows several letters on her parliamentary letterhead” with her statement: “Your questions do not relate to matters within my portfolio. They are private matters.”

    Allen Young, Terrey Hills, December 12.

    The power of a ministerial letterhead does wonders. Our letters outlining building claims under the home owners’ warranty with Royal and Sun Alliance were ignored by it until our solicitor advised we were forced to take the insurance company to the Fair Trading Tribunal.

    Well, after a year we are still trying to obtain compensation from this insurance company for builder’s damages. We have expended tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

    Oh, to be a minister.

    The public is not aware of the pitfalls of the home owners’ warranty.

  17. lynot says:

    Above from the Sydney Morning Herald.

  18. lynot says:

    Pressure builds on Coonan to resign
    By Mark Riley, Political Correspondent
    December 13 2002

    Under fire … Helen Coonan. Photo: Pat Scala

    The future of the Revenue Minister, Helen Coonan, was in doubt last night after she admitted using her ministerial letterhead in pursuit of a successful claim for a $200,000 insurance payout.

    The Opposition Leader, Simon Crean, called on Senator Coonan to resign after she acknowledged writing on the letterhead at least twice to the insurance company assessing her claim.

    The Prime Minister, John Howard, told Parliament that using a ministerial letterhead for personal matters was “not a hanging offence, although it would not normally be the practice”.

    It was the first time he had qualified his staunch defence of Senator Coonan, as the Opposition increased its attack on her business, property and tax arrangements.

    But Mr Howard’s qualified defence was strongly criticised by the executive director of the St James Ethics Centre, Dr Simon Longstaff, who said the use of the letterhead in personal disputes was “the clearest breach of ministerial principle”.

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    “It implies that the full weight of the executive arm of the Government is being invoked in defence of her personal claim.”

    The Opposition frontbencher Mark Latham, who has led the attack on Senator Coonan, told Parliament she had also withheld payment of $40,000 to the builder, leaving his company close to bankruptcy, and $15,000 from the architect.

    The developments followed revelations in the Herald yesterday that Senator Coonan, the minister responsible for the insurance industry, had used her letterhead in the dispute over renovations to her multi-million-dollar Woollahra home.

    The Royal & Sun Alliance insurance company paid her the maximum $200,000 this year under the Home Owners Warranty scheme after long negotiations over a claim for defects.

    Senator Coonan has said the renovations were so extensive that she and her husband, the retired Supreme Court judge Andrew Rogers, moved into a weekender he owned at Clareville.

    In Parliament last week the couple were accused of arranging their affairs to avoid land tax and capital gains tax on the Pittwater weekender after the Herald revealed that Mr Rogers had changed his electoral enrolment to the address.

    Senator Coonan denied the claims, but Mr Howard read a statement to Parliament on the day the article appeared revealing that Mr Rogers had paid outstanding land taxes on the property that day.

    Documents show that Senator Coonan has used her parliamentary letterhead in correspondence related to her renovations since the development application was lodged with Woollahra Council in 1998.

    On April 27, 1999, she wrote to the council’s general manager, Gary James, complaining about $652.10 in fees for a supplementary development application.

    “Frankly, I cannot understand what is going on,” she wrote. “I am informed by my architect that she has never known of a previous case where, after an application has been lodged and various formalities have gone through, a belated demand for a further sum of money is made by council.

    “… I would be most grateful if you would look into this matter for me and let me know if it can be resolved without further delay or expense.” The request was made on Senator Coonan’s parliamentary letterhead.

    In a letter on February 4, 2000, to the then mayor of Woollahra, Andrew Petrie, also on her letterhead, Senator Coonan wrote that Mr James had “kindly exercised his discretion in respect of further council fees”.

    “I would be grateful if this could be resolved without the need to do all this yet again … I don’t want any favours just sanity to prevail!”

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  19. dafid1 says:

    I await with interest the howls of ‘horror’ from Pyne, Bishop, and the child Hunt, who spent months running down the stimulus packages, Hunt using the parents of a tragically electrocuted young man, to make political gain out of a an accident not of the Govts making, Will these lowlife now demand their mate Lewis write a follow up expose to Wixxy’s excellent research…bludy hell there goes that Liberal pig, flying high again!!!!!!!!!

  20. Former union... (not HSU... And sadly... No hookers) says:

    Helen doesn’t approve the refit… The dept of finance does (Labors in gov.. So their dept)…. So who’s wasting money again? The government… Hmm bit underhanded and one sided there peter

    • wixxy says:

      One sided? What’s the other side? Did someone force Coonan to have her office refitted in the most expensive of manners?
      The poor thing…..

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