Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Very Active Member

FOLLOWERS of current events might have been surprised the other day to hear an announcement by Speaker Peter Slipper, who was widely quoted as asserting he had been found by the Department of Finance to be innocent of rorting. “Peter Slipper Cleared Over Expenses” was a typical headline, particularly in the Fairfax press, where editors appear not to have paid too much attention to the AAP report’s first paragraph, which attributes the purported exoneration to no greater authority than Slipper’s say-so. Now that a little time has passed, curiosity is re-asserting itself, at least in some quarters.

Slipper’s local rag, the Sunshine Coast Daily, is demanding the full text of the department’s probe, not just bare ledgers listing six months’ worth of taxi trips, where they began and how much taxpayer’s were billed for getting Team Gillard’s latest recruit from A to B. An index of the department’s Slipper-related inquiries can be found here. Of those records, one is especially fascinating.

Here, for example, is a little sequence of to-ing and fro-ing over the course of a couple of days in September, 2009. Remember, Slipper represents an electorate quite a bit to the north of Kings Cross, a simple fact that makes it rather hard to conceive just what business he might have been pursuing on behalf of his constituents, especially at midnight, in that notorious precinct.

21-Sep-09         Suburbs Uni Of NSW        22:31        $13.22
21-Sep-09         Suburbs Kings Cross         23:02        $14.73
22-Sep-09         Office  Taylor Square       00:38         $6.86
22-Sep-09         Office  Kings Cross            07:24        $11.52
22-Sep-09         Office  Brickfield Hl           18:52       $7.27
22-Sep-09         Suburbs Taylor Square    20:03         $11.10
22-Sep-09         City Kings Cross                 21:12       $7.97
23-Sep-09         City Kings Cross                 06:15       $7.77

In another of the travel manifests, this one listing Cabcharge manual dockets (as opposed to the computerised ones above) for the same few days, there are indications Slipper has been gifted with the remarkable ability to be in two places at once:

21-Sep-09         Buderim Airport    $290.00
21-Sep-09         Airport     Suburbs $115.00
22-Sep-09         Suburbs   Suburbs $125.00
22-Sep-09         Suburbs   Suburbs $135.00
23-Sep-09         Suburbs   Airport   $90.00
23-Sep-09         Airport       City      $85.00
23-Sep-09         Brisbane Buderim $295.00

There may be an innocent explanation for all this, as the listing of Queensland cabs includes no references to the times those trips began and concluded. So it is possible that Slipper’s interests really did see him shuttling repeatedly between Sydney and his home turf during those frantic few days. But it would be nice to see the full copy of the Department of Finance investigation, as that might put many questions and uncharitable suspicions to rest.

Perhaps one of those quality journalists we hear so much about might care to make some inquiries – if they are not too busy worrying how Gina Rinehart’s interest in Fairfax Media will stop them doing their jobs, that is.

UPDATE: The destination listed as "Brickfield Hl" would be appear to be the Brickfield Hill B&B. A charming home away from home, it boasts of major bedrooms equipped with four-poster beds. How very romantic!

20 comments:

  1. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.February 2, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    22-Sep-09 City Kings Cross 21:12 $7.97

    23-Sep-09 City Kings Cross 06:15 $7.77

    Makes one wonder Prof what he so urgently had to go back for at 6.15 the next day after such a late night. Or is this a disguised return journey?

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  2. The Old and Unimproved DaveFebruary 2, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Is this some sort of variation on the Run-Drink-Run jogging pub tour ?

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  3. Elizabeth: Get the popcorn ready for next week's action in Canberra. If Madam Stupid still thinks putting Slipper in the Speaker's chair was a smart move, she may change her mind by the the Question Time. The parliament is going to be absolutely ungovernable, what with Slipper being called upon to explain himself, Thomson's indiscretions and, of course, that little race riot on Australia Day.

    Can barely wait for the action to begin!

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  4. You wouldn't be dead for quids, would you?

    I am seriously hoping for some definite movement towards an early election and it has to happen this year. Adult Australians have seriously had enough of these ALP kiddies running this country aground.

    JMH

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  5. Less than eight bucks from the City to Kings Cross ?

    Traffic on William Street must have been light even for a Tuesday night or Slippery Pete gets police escorts ( boom tish ) to wave him through the red lights ( more boom tish ).

    eg try this handy dandy webtool as an approximation.

    http://www.worldtaximeter.com/sydney

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  6. What I find disturbing (apart from the interstate time travel) is the percentage of rides after 10:30pm. There might be an occasion where a constituents needs required that sort of timetable, but either the Member or the Member's member are the only ones needing taxis at that hour on a regular basis.
    (And the manual vouchers at home coinciding with the ecard use in Sydney suggests a practice of swiping a fistfull of vouchers and leaving them on the kitchen bench for anyone to use...)

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  7. Regarding manual cabcharges. A long time ago in an employment far, far away (Telecom before it became Telstra), manual cabcharges were a treasured reward for friday night drinks with the crew.

    It really wasn't all that difficult to get your hands on them, and this is only supposition, but who's to say that the Slippery One hasn't assisted someone with getting home after hours?

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    1. Not in Sydney. However overtime in a couple of employment situations I was in entitled you to a cabcharge because it wasn't safe to get public transport home... if I could only remember when and where the employment was! Probably the 80s. Telstra in Brisbane (and Sydney).
      I never availed myself of the cabcharges, I was lucky to be able to afford to take my car to work every day. Oh, parking in Brisbane was only $4/day.
      The good old days!

      Delete
  8. If the cabcharge manual and dockets apply to both Sydney and Brisbane then it is consistent with leaving Buderim,flying from Brisbane arriving in Sydney on 21st,travelling in Sydney on 22nd and returning to Brisbane and then Buderim on the 23rd.
    If the cabcharge manual dockets are from Brisbane only they can't be explained.

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    Replies
    1. The expenses were certainly in Sydney and Brisbane as the RSL cab service is a Sydney cab service.

      It is the location recorded by the RSL cab service docket is Kings Cross and the time in the middle of the night that we should be questioning. What government business was Slipper doing in Kings Cross so late at night?

      Compare the RSL Cab receipts to Slipper's submission of Cab Charge use ( http://www.finance.gov.au/foi/disclosure-log/2011/20110301_manual_docket.html ) and you will see glaring differences in costs and that no time is provided by Slipper in his submitted Can Charge usage.

      The actual receipts from RSL cabs total $80.44 while Slipper's Cab Charge record total,for the same RSL Cabs, on the same day, totals $465.

      This means that Slipper has cheated we Australian taxpayers to the tune of $384.56 on these two days alone. This no doubt goes some way towards explaining how an MP can rack up $1.8 million in fares over 5 years. I would like to see an independent audit of records of receipts and Cab Charge submission over the five year period.

      I fail to understand how Slipper has been exonerated of abusing the privileges of office. He should be sacked for this single discrepancy alone.

      And now, today, we learn that this man is holding our parliament to ransom by gagging our elected representatives at his own discretion, without warning.

      We do live in scary times. Next we will have Slipper as PM and we will be shot in our homes if we raise a voice against him.

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  9. Oh boy! Has Abbott the attack dog seen this?

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  10. There is reason to think that Abbott may not go hard at Slipper over such episodes. First, he may consider that Slipper should not yet be burnt off. There may still be a chance that Slipper may not vote with Gillard and the associated rabble on a no-confidence motion. (In this respect, he may be acting as triple agent. Did he induce Gillard to dump Wilkie with a view to encouraging the latter to vote against Gillard, having in mind not to neutralise the latter's vote on a no-confidence motion? Delcious thought.)

    Second, an attack will be blunted by cries of 'playing the man', 'Abbott has gone too far' etc, and it may be difficult to sheet allegations about misspending home in a convincing fashion. Then, if an attack bogs down, Gillard is spared harder (and from the swinging voter's perspective more relevant) questions about immigration, standard of living, taxes, etc.

    Abbott now needs to stay positive, and worry about what Gillard will do. The Gillard pushed FWA decision on the community sector workers is a clever move. It gets that lot onside, and may well get all their 'clients' onside too (otherwise they will get tipped out of the wheelchair). Abbott cannot let her get the initiative on things that matter to voters.

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  11. The Rates appear to be pretty good at Brickfield Hill B&B but I couldn't ascertain whether they are daily or hourly

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  12. Lazy bastard, you could walk from Brickfield Hill to the Cross in a few minutes - probably be good for you as well!

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  13. Rortin' an a rootin', what a crazy time..

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  14. Prof, it surprises me that an energetic reporter hasn't looked at the current whereabouts of his son and the correlation between trips in Brisbane and Sydney on the same day.

    I wonder if young master Slipper is currently enrolled in UNSW, the same one who was running around in the taxpayer funded car in Sydney.

    On another point, is there any other employer in Australia that allows unexplained and justified trips in taxis? Pollies should have to account for every dollar spent of taxpayer money, Slipper is just taking the piss.

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  15. Brickfield Hill is well situated for Peter. Many years ago I used to live close by and walk down Foveaux St. to Central on my way to work. As anyone familiar with the area would know,on the corner of Foveaux and Riley Sts., about 100 yards from Pete's digs, is the establishment known as A Touch of Class. Makes you wonder why he needed the CabCharge at all.

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  16. Surely there is not a "cover-up", by this Gillard Government? That would be very dishonest now, wouldn't it?

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  17. Professor, your work on this was cited in The Australian this morning:

    "The records, published by the federal government, were reported by online blog Bunyipitude on Thursday."

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/slipper-silent-on-cab-rides-to-kings-cross-nightclub-strip/story-fn59niix-1226262272908

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  18. What do you make of Slipper's latest move, to eject parliamentarians without notice?

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