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الرئيسية | استراليا | Joe Hockey claims $1000 a month in travel allowance to sleep at his wife’s house

Joe Hockey claims $1000 a month in travel allowance to sleep at his wife’s house

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المصدر: news.com.au
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عدد المشاهدات: 2016
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Treasurer Joe Hockey and his wife Melissa Babbage. Source: News Corp Australia

TREASURER Joe Hockey has charged taxpayers $184,000 to sleep in his wife’s $2 million Canberra home since he was elected to Parliament — more than half of the original sale price.

After claiming travel allowance for every night he’s slept at the family home for the last 15 years, it can now be revealed he’s claimed $1,000-a-month on average since 1998.

The figure is the same amount — $519 a fortnight — that the government provides unemployed people on Newstart payments to live on.

The Hockey family’s astute purchase of the blue-ribbon real estate investment for $320,000 in 1997 has paid huge dividends, with the property now worth around seven times the original purchase price.

Under travel allowance rules, Mr Hockey is allowed to claim $271-a-night when he stays in Canberra to cover the cost of accommodation regardless of whether he stays in a hotel, his own property or a friend’s home.

The arrangement has allowed Mr Hockey to claim around $12,267 a year in travel allowance every year for the last 15 years to sleep in the family home. On a monthly bassi, taxpayers are paying Mr Hockey $1023 in travel allowance on average, the same rate as the Newstart unemployment benefit.

His use of the travel entitlement is allowed under the current rules and does not represent any improper use of his entitlements.

Asked last week if his $271-a-night travel allowance had helped pay off the mortgage, Mr Hockey said: “I don’t know, I pay rent’’ - to his wife.

“You are living away from home and employers pay that,” Mr Hockey said.

“I think I was away 185 days last year and you try and have the same bed and you try and have the same place to leave a shirt.”

But because the socially minded Mr Hockey has encouraged other MPs to share the house and pay rent to his wife when Parliament sits the costs to the taxpayers don’t stop there. On the basis of a number of other MPs sleeping there including Bob Baldwin and former Liberal leader Brendan Nelson, who famously slept in the shed after his divorce for cut price rent, taxpayers are likely to have spent more than original $320,000-asking price. Dr Nelson slept in Mr Hockey’s converted shed without heating or a toilet, later revealing that he used a fire bucket when nature called.

“The house was a piece of Hockey mercantile genius,” former Liberal MP Ross Cameron told biographer Madonna King.

“Joe brings to the Treasury what I describe as an ancient Armenian sense of where the sweet spot of the deal is.”

The original owners when the home was purchased included Mr Hockey, his father and his wife Melissa Babbage, a self-made millionaire. Mr Hockey has subsequently stated that his Canberra house is owned by his wife and he pays rent.

Mr Hockey declined to reveal how much rent he pays his wife to live in the house. The Hockey family also own a five-bedroom home in Hunters Hill that is now estimated to be worth $5.4 million. They are currently in the process of selling the family’s $1.5 million Queensland farm.

The Treasurer endured a storm of protest this week over pointing out the obvious, that it helps to have a high paying job to buy a home.

“The starting point for a first homebuyer is to get a good job that pays good money,” he said.

“Then you can go to the bank and you can borrow money.”

Mr Hockey later insisted that he “totally’’ understood that property in Sydney and Melbourne was “very expensive”.

المصدر: news.com.au

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