Crikey is looking to name the 10 Australian politicians we reckons should most definitely not be in Parliament and WA Liberal Senator Sue Knowles is a leading contender after committing to paper something that is amazingly embarrassing in the hands of Crikey. Read this and weep.

Let’s open up with this hilarious interview between ABC Perth’s Liam Bartlett, one of Aunty’s best presenters in the country, and that evasive rort-seeking Senator Sue Knowles.

BARTLETT: Well, there’s a lot of unhappiness in Liberal ranks today. WA Senator Sue Knowles has lashed out at her state colleagues, accusing them of double-cross and conspiracy. It appears that she has missed out on a parliamentary job, and she blames, fairly and squarely, Judi Moylan, Mal Washer, Barry Haase and Geoff Prosser.

Senator, good morning.

KNOWLES: Oh, good morning, Liam, I was hoping that you were going to let me speak this time on MRIs, that I tried to get on about two weeks ago, 05

BARTLETT: well

KNOWLES: unfortunately we’re not focusing now on MRI, we’re focusing on trivia.

BARTLETT: Well, you know, it’s amazing that you should say that, Senator, I’m glad you bring it up, because I’ve been reading a letter that you sent to your senatorial colleagues, and, gee, you must have been pretty dark at missing out at this job, I would have thought you would have been busy, far too busy, to write such a detailed letter and far too busy, for example, spending time lobbying for an MRI for Princess Margaret.

KNOWLES: Well, isn’t that interesting, because if you knew the facts, Liam, I didn’t seek the position, I didn’t lobby for the position, I was asked by the Senate Whip to stand for the position, and there was an arrangement between the House of Representatives and the Senate for , 05(inaudible), 05those committees. Now I’ve never been a chairman of a friendship group before in my life. There is no trip attached to it, at all, and I didn’t seek it.

BARTLETT: Well why did you want it so badly?

KNOWLES: I didn’t want it so badly. I didn’t want it so badly. The point is, Liam, please understand this, that there was.. if there is an agreement between the Reps and the Senate it is normally honoured. What happened, on a number of occasions, with these particular committees, is that the agreement was not honoured.

Now it’s.. I couldn’t care less, I couldn’t give a continental about the thing. If I’d been so concerned about it why would I have not been nominated before or not sought nomination before, or anything else.

BARTLETT: …if you couldn’t give a continental, Senator, why would you write such a comprehensive letter, accusing your colleagues of double-crossing you?

KNOWLES: Well, it.. as you would know, if you read the letter, it wasn’t the first time, 05 it wasn’t the first time that a , 05 I’m not talking about double-crossing me, I am talking about double-crossing or breaking an agreement between the Reps and the Senate, and I want to make it quite clear, Liam, that quite wrongly I have been accused of seeking a position which I didn’t, and also seeking a position because it had a trip attached to it. It had no trip attached to it at all.

BARTLETT: Well it must have been

KNOWLES: just for your information

BARTLETT: …it must have been fairly attractive, because you’ve gone out of your way to accuse

KNOWLES: just for your information, Liam, I am entitled, as is every other Member of Parliament, for an around the world, first-class trip, every Parliament. Do you know what? I’m one of the very few people who have never used that parliamentary entitlement to its full. Most parliaments I have never touched one cent of it, and equally, if you want to see whether I am saving taxpayers’ dollars, ask how many members of Parliament go out and buy their own car in Canberra, when they’re entitled to a Comcar, 24-hours-a-day, and I use my own car at my own expense, saving the taxpayer money. Now I get pretty cross about this.

BARTLETT: Good, well let’s talk about entitlements, let’s stay on that track, because in this letter that you have sent to your colleagues, giving them a right old spray, you’ve pointed out to Barry Haase that he should pay you back some of the money that you used, out of your parliamentary entitlements, to help him in the last federal election.

KNOWLES: Liam, I am entitled, as a Senator for Western Australia, to write to my constituents in any electorate, at any time. I chose to do that, and I can prove the letters were within entitlements, completely and utterly within entitlement.

BARTLETT: Yes, and now you want that money back. Whose money is it, Senator?

KNOWLES: Well, that’s what I’m saying to you, Liam, I am trying to protect taxpayers’ money by providing a whole lot of things at my own expense, and when you say to me, 05

BARTLETT: …protect taxpayers’ money? Protect it?

KNOWLES: But hold on, no, but hold on, I’m not, I am protecting taxpayers’ money..

BARTLETT: you say you’ve used it

KNOWLES: oh, I have, how many people have their own car at tax, instead of using a taxpayer funded car?

BARTLETT: Senator

KNOWLES: how many people

BARTLETT: ..it is quite clear

KNOWLES: don’t use their entitlements?

BARTLETT: It is quite clear, you say you’ve used that taxpayer money to help your colleague, Barry Haase, in the last federal election. You say, in your own words, in your own letter, you say, and I quote, I am wondering if you, Barry, will now pay for the mail-out, and leave me with some funds in my entitlement for the remainder of this financial year?

KNOWLES: Yes, well

BARTLETT: that’s, that’s on the end of the spray accusing him of conspiracy and double-cross. So you want that money back?

KNOWLES: We generally work with a team spirit, and I’m just a bit disappointed that the team spirit and agreements broke down between the House of Reps and the Senate. That’s what I’m disappointed about.

BARTLETT: So that team spirit has been broken, and so now you want pay-back, but we’re talking about taxpayers’ money here.

KNOWLES: Well, it’s the same thing.

BARTLETT: So you, you, Do you do that all the time, do you and your colleagues do that all the time? I mean, is it just a sort of a game of tag, with taxpayers’ money, depending on who helps who?

KNOWLES: No, it is not a game of tag at all, because we have to account for our expenditure, and I am fully within an entitlement. We have to account for every red cent. And that is why I deliberately set out to try and take personal measures to save the taxpayer money, and what you want to focus on, instead of you allowing me to talk last fortnight ago, today, when I held onto the phone for 45 minutes trying to get another view, you want to now question me whether I save money. Just ask the department how much I have ever used out of my entitlements.

BARTLETT: Well

KNOWLES:you will

BARTLETT: obviously you’ve been using, you’ve been using them to help everyone else. Did you use those funds to help Barry Haase because you thought that he was going to vote for you to get this chairmanship of the Australian Canadian parliamentary friendship group, did you?

KNOWLES: Oh, Liam, what a simplistic, ill-informed comment. I have to say that, Liam. I mean, for heaven’s sake, I have worked to get the Howard Government re-elected and I have worked to get my colleagues re-elected, and

BARTLETT: so now that you haven’t been elected chairman

KNOWLES: of the week

BARTLETT: now that you have

KNOWLES: every day of the week

BARTLETT: Senator, now that you haven’t been elected chairman of this parliamentary group, this friendship group with Canada, you want Barry to pay you that money back?

KNOWLES: Oh, he can do whatever he wants.. hey, listen, I have

BARTLETT: why do you say, why do you say at the end of the letter, I do not wish this to fall into the hands of those who seek to further damage us?

KNOWLES: Well, the media, the media. Now someone

BARTLETT: you thought it would be damaging, did you, those words?

KNOWLES: Someone.. someone in that group has obviously intentionally leaked a private and confidential letter that was marked ‘private’ and ‘confidential’, front and back. Now someone in that group has given the media that letter to do me damage or to do the party damage or to do the Government damage.

BARTLETT: Well, you just have to look at the contents. Why would you put something like this in writing?

KNOWLES: Well, hey, listen, if you do something in private and confidential manner you expect people to honour the privacy and the confidentiality of it. Okay, you learn a lesson, that people might not be able to be trusted

BARTLETT: ..is that a bit naive, is that a bit naive, Senator, seeing as they’ve

KNOWLES: no, because

BARTLETT: they’ve broken your trust on everything else, according to you in this letter?

KNOWLES: No, they haven’t. I mean, they dudded Senator Eggleston too, if you remember, but you haven’t referred to that either. But, I mean, when I say ‘they’, I’m talking about the House of Reps, I’m not talking about specific people, I am talking about members of the House of Representatives who broke an agreement. I’m not talking about specific individuals.

BARTLETT: So relationships aren’t too good amongst the WA Liberal Senators?

KNOWLES: WA Liberal Senators are fine. There is no problem with the WA Liberal Senators. The Liberal Senators were put to, put into a position by the Whip, not by us. Senator Eggleston didn’t seek his position either, nor did I.

BARTLETT: So after having a crack at Judi Moylan, Mal Washer, Barry Haase and Geoff Prosser, you then say, referring to ‘them’, for me and Senator Eggleston to be shafted so blatantly in almost joyously is obnoxious.

KNOWLES: Well I think it is. I

BARTLETT: .so you’re not happy campers?

KNOWLES: Well I just, well you talked about senators, they aren’t senators. I am talking about people breaking an agreement. And I would have thought that you, Liam, would have thought it’s important for people to work within agreement, and as Senator Eggleston rightly says, if that is broken down, it’s a very sad state. But the fact of the matter is, you choose not to concentrate on where the, 05 multitude of areas where I save taxpayers money, quite deliberately, quite deliberately, where I have an entitlement and don’t use it, to concentrate on something like this, and when I wanted to speak to you

BARTLETT: ..well you would have been

KNOWLES: about MRIs you refused, point blank, to let me on.

BARTLETT: Senator, you know, you know very well – I know you keep going back to that point – but you know very well at that particular time that the Federal Minister was the one who made the decisions, the Federal Minister for Health, your colleague, would not talk to this program, because she was already under pressure. Let’s not go back and revisit that. Talk to me about

KNOWLES: no, but she, nine o’clock news.

BARTLETT: talk to me about taxpayers’ money, again, and the value that we are getting, because if you had of been elected chairman of this group, we would have been paying you with taxpayers’ dollars while you were doing it, so can I return to the original question, what was so good about the job?

KNOWLES: There was nothing good about the job, I’ve just told you that, Liam. I don’t know how many times I’ve got to repeat it, but I did not seek the position, I was asked by the Whip to stand for that position, as was Senator Eggleston, for China.

BARTLETT: So you’ve written a poison pen letter to all your mates, saying that you were shafted so blatantly and you don’t think the job is any good now?

KNOWLES: Senators were shafted. Senators were shafted, by the House of Representatives. I mean, you know, hey, listen, Liam

BARTLETT: Senator, this is embarrassing, isn’t it?

KNOWLES: it’s not embarrassing.

BARTLETT this is embarrassing for you?

KNOWLES: No, you’re trying to make it embarrassing for me, that I want to tell you something that’s very important also, about the MRIs. You realise that there’s been a decision to assist the State Government with the installation of the MRI in Princess Margaret?

BARTLETT: Senator, can we stick to the subject?

KNOWLES: No, I’m asking you an important policy question, are you aware of that?

BARTLETT: I’m asking you about shuffling taxpayers’ money, shuffling taxpayers’ money in the form of parliamentary entitlements, back and forth between yourself in order to get elected, keep jobs, and do deals? Don’t you think people are interested in that?

KNOWLES: Oh, I think people, well, according to you, people are very interested in an MRI at Princess Margaret, and I’ve got to tell you that it was the, 05 that I was one of the key negotiators with the Federal Minister for Health to try and get a suitable outcome for PMH, and you wouldn’t let me talk about it.

BARTLETT: you keep going back to that

KNOWLES: now got an outcome

BARTLETT: you

KNOWLES: yeah, we’ve now got an outcome, but you won’t talk about it.

BARTLETT: A final question for you, because obviously we’re not getting very far

KNOWLES: no!

BARTLETT: ..do you still expect

KNOWLES: discuss the important issues.

BARTLETT: Do you still expect – as you wrote, in your letter – do you still expect your colleague, Barry Haase, to pay you back the money, your parliamentary entitlement, which I might remind you belongs to the taxpayer?

KNOWLES: He can, Barry can do what he sees fit, I don’t know.

BARTLETT: You’ve changed your mind since writing the letter, have you?

KNOWLES: I, Barry can do , I just said to you, Barry can do what he sees fit, that’s not up to me. I don’t make decisions for others, Liam.

BARTLETT: Senator, thanks

KNOWLES: that’s pretty naive to think that I do.

BARTLETT: Thanks for your time this morning.

KNOWLES: Cheers.

BARTLETT: WA Liberal Senator Sue Knowles, on the program.

ENDS

The West’s follow-up

And now let’s look at The West Australian’s follow-up to Crikey’s publication of the rorting letter by Senator Sue Knowles.

By Karen Middleton

Political correspondent for The West Australian

BITCHING and backbiting have broken out among Federal MPs from WA over the allocation of some of the spoils of office.

WA Senator Sue Knowles has accused Liberal colleagues of reneging on a deal which would have seen her elected chairman of the Australian-Canadian parliamentary friendship group and colleague Senator Alan Eggleston elected to the Chinese equivalent.

The chairmanship of the 85 friendship groups are highly prized because many attract overseas trips.

In a letter to colleagues Judi Moylan, Mal Washer, Barry Haase and Geoff Prosser, Senator Knowles accused them of conspiring deviously to keep the senators out of the jobs.

“Needless to say, as this was the second time that a WA senator had been double-crossed by their own State colleagues I could not help but start to think of all the things that I (and Senator Eggleston) had done to assist in the original election and subsequent re-election of those very same colleagues,” she wrote.

She criticised Ms Moylan, who won the Chinese job, of rolling Senator Eggleston and then ensuring Senator Knowles also was not elected.

“That’s the thanks I get from you for that and all the times I have defended you as a Minister and represented you in your electorate,” she said. “What do you propose to do to rectify two clearly collaborated wrongs?”

Ms Moylan declined to comment.

Both senators insist they were not lobbying for the jobs but had been told by their party’s whips in the House of Representatives that they would be awarded them.

They say a deal had been done to ensure a fair number of the jobs went to senators, not just MPs. But it collapsed.

Senator Eggleston said he was not concerned about missing out on the job. “But I do think it’s a pity an agreement between the whips in the House of Representatives and the Senate wasn’t honoured,” he said. “The Parliament works on these kinds of arrangements and if they’re not followed there’s chaos.”

Senator Knowles said there had been no trip involved in the Canadian job. She had never been part of a friendship group before, nor was she looking for more overseas trips.

“The thought of going away unnecessarily does not appeal to me,” she said. She resented any implication that she was on the gravy train.

“I am one of the few people who has only ever used part of my overseas (study tour) entitlement to travel on only two occasions out of all that time (in Parliament),” she said. “The rest of the time I have not used a cent.”

She said her critics were hypocrites. “If they’re talking about saving the taxpayers”dollars, how many of my colleagues go out and buy themselves a car when they’re in Canberra instead of fleecing the taxpayer?” she said.

“Of all of my colleagues, I know of no one else who saves the taxpayer more. I don’t even use Comcar.”

ends

The West also ran this piece on March 22.

Plum job miss sours senator

By Karen Middleton
Political correspondent for The West Australian

IN FEDERAL Parliament, there are the things that matter and the things that really matter.

Attacks on High Court judges, Treasury squandering $5 billion – these are up there.

But where things get deadly serious is in divvying up the trips overseas. Here, the politics are truly ferocious.

This past fortnight, the coalition and Labor have handed out the year’s handful of highly-prized trips away.

On the Labor side it was done factionally with much private wheeling and dealing to ensure things went the “right” way.

But over in the coalition, decorum has disappeared. There is brawling.

You could say WA Liberals did nicely in this round of freebies, with retiring Senator Winston Crane to join a delegation to Finland and Germany.

Senator Alan Eggleston is off to Indonesia and Vietnam, and Senator Ross Lightfoot, who apparently nominated for all three trips, has secured the tour of Europe’s parliaments.

But some West Australians are less happy about the way things turned out.

Take Senator Sue Knowles.

She was so irate about being rolled in her bid to chair the Australian-Canadian parliamentary friendship group that she wrote a screaming letter to her WA colleagues accusing them of betrayal.

Unfortunately for her, even more Machiavellian politics were at play and the narrowly circulated letter was leaked to that handy electronic scandal sheet, Crikey.com.au

In the letter, Senator Knowles conducts a free character analysis of WA MPs Judi Moylan, Geoff Prosser, Barry Haase and Mal Washer, who she says ensured neither she nor Senator Eggleston, subsequently rewarded, were endorsed.

There are 85 international friendship groups in the Parliament. Many, if not most, have nice trips attached. It’s no surprise that those linked to the most popular destinations are the hottest properties.

THE chairs are elected by attending shadowy meetings which seem only selectively publicised. Committee-stacking is rife. The usual animosity between the Senate and House of Representatives turns into war.

In 1996, Lower House MPs stormed the committees and took almost all the jobs. In 1998, the senators counter-attacked, stealing the best ones including groups for the United States, Britain and Germany.

Some groups are less popular. Last time Julie Bishop ended up as chairman of the Australian-Romanian friendship group because she was the only one who turned up at the meeting.

She didn’t tell the Romanians she actually meant to join the Swiss group but went to the wrong room.

This year, there was supposed to be a deal to ensure senators won at least 25 per cent of the jobs. In return, the senators had to relinquish a plum gig. The chairmanship of the British group was put on the table.

But in a repeat of 96, MPs overrode the deal, blasting the senators out of the water.

Senator Knowles was irate, accusing her own side’s Lower House whips of reaching “a new level of sneakiness and deception”.

Her extraordinary letter also offers insight into WA Liberal campaign strategy. She refers to using $18,803.48 of her senatorial postal entitlement, “as is my right”, to do a mailout in the Kalgoorlie electorate to help re-elect Mr Haase.

All this while the world turns slowly outside.

IT SHOULD be said that most Federal MPs work hard and don’t squabble over the spoils of office. But as Comcar drivers now know, even the suggestion of a bad apple can make the orchard stink.

If Sue Knowles was irate before, she’s incensed now her letter has leaked. She is, she says, one of the few who goes easy on the public purse when it comes to perks.

Senator Knowles says there was no trip involved in the Canadian position. And the fact that when in Canberra, she drives her own car and pays for her own petrol is not because of the unhappy publicity surrounding the poor old Comcar drivers. It’s to save Australians money. So there.

ends

Crikey’s coverage on Knowles letter

When this letter from Senator Knowles, a Liberal from Western Australia, fluttered onto Crikey’s desk we did not know whether to laugh or cry. It does however give a very interesting insight into the standard of our federal politicians and what is important to them. Obviously written English is not a qualification to get endorsed by the Western Australian Liberal party.

This letter is a whingeing diatribe from Knowles to a number of her colleagues complaining that apparently no one likes her and no one will vote for her to go on the gravy train. Her solution in this letter is to be appointed unopposed without a ballot.

Knowles, a parliamentary failure if ever there was one, has been in the parliament for seventeen years and she is still trying to get herself more free overseas junkets. The friendship groups to which she refers in her letter are made up of federal members and there is one such group for each country. The chairman of the group is provided with free junkets to the friendship group country.

NOW READ ON AND LAUGH OR CRY

To: Jim Lloyd (H/R Whip), Joanna Gash (H/R Deputy Whip) Judi Moylan (Lib WA) Mal Washer (Lib WA) Barry Haase (Lib WA) and Geoff Prosser (Lib WA),

Cc: Senator Alan Eggleston (WA), Senator Paul Calvert (Senate Whip), Hon Senator Chris Ellison (WA), and Hon Senator Ian Campbell (WA).

Dear Jim, Joanna, Judi, Mal, Barry and Geoff,

Yesterday morning I was appalled to learn that the House of Representatives Whips, had obviously and quite deviously, reneged on an agreement made with the Senate Whip about the Chairmanship of certain Friendship Groups.

The one to which I refer in this instance is, of course, the China Group.

I was astounded that the Whips could do such a thing but probably more astounded to learn that two of my Western Australian colleagues were knowing parties to the dupe of Senator Eggleston. On this occasion they were Judi Moylan and Geoff Prosser and their excuse was that “Judi Moylan knows so much about China”. For their information and the information of all the conspirators, so does Senator Eggleston!

Not long after I heard of the Eggleston hatchet job by his own State colleagues, I mentioned it to Judi who promptly protested all innocence and stated that she was unaware of any Whips deal. When I pointed out to her that the ‘deal’ had been made known at the meeting she still proceeded with the dupe and her response was “oh well, I’ve spoken to Alan this morning” (as if by just speaking to him was going to absolve her from any association with the dupe).

By the end of the conversation I made it quite clear that I thought it was an extremely low thing for her and Geoff to do and she walked off.

At 9.45pm last night I arrived at 1R3 for the meeting of the Canadian Friendship Group after being told by the Senate Whip, Senator Calvert, that on agreement with the House of Representatives Whip, I was to be elected unopposed as chairman. (The agreement involved the Senate getting 19 chairs out of 85).

When I walked in and saw Judi and Geoff and an array of other Reps members filing in after their WHIP had paged them to stack the meeting, it became quite clear to Senator Ferris (Senate Deputy Whip) and me that I was about to be rolled for the chairmanship of that group in the same way in which Senator Eggleston was.

Senator Ferris and I made it quite clear to Judi and Geoff (and subsequently Barry and Mal), the Reps Deputy Whip, Joanna, and the remaining members of the lynch mob that there was a deal between the Whips for me to have the chairmanship of the Canadian group.

When the meeting was called to order, nominations were called. To my utter astonishment the Reps Deputy Whip was the one who nominated Cameron Thompson in total contradiction to the agreement twhich she, as Deputy Whip, had been a party.

After she had repeated his name three times and, once again, had it made clear to her by Senator Ferris and me that her deliberate action was in contradiction to ‘the deal” I asked her “what’s wrong with me Joanna?” The answer was something mumbled that was inaudible. Nonetheless she proceeded.

(I might make the point here that I have around six years experience as one of the Senate Whips and can say that what has taken place this week sets a new level of sneakiness and deception not previously experienced).

Back to the main story:

Mal came to me and said, “mate, I didn’t know anything had been organised” to which I responded, “well, you know now, and I hope that it will be reflected in your vote”.

Immediately the ballot papers were handed in Judi absented herself and after they had been collected I watched in amazement as Geoff proceeded to write the name ‘Thompson’ on his ballot paper.

The vote was 22 for Thompson and 4 for me. The four verified votes for me were mine and Senators Ferris, Tschen and Mason. This, as any half-smart primary school child would tell you, meant that Geoff, Barry and Mal all voted against me with Judi absenting herself in preference to staying and casting her vote in favour of her Western Australian colleague. In other words, that abstinence is the same as voting against a person.

She rushed out of the meeting to follow me and say, “Sue, I really didn’t know of any arrangement. I really didn’t.” This was a bit rich as this was the SECOND time that Judi has used that excuse to me in ONE day. She then made the observation “well, I abstained from the vote” as if somehow that was a more courageous and gallant thing to do than stay and support me!

Needless to say, as this was the second time that a Western Australian senator had been double-crossed by their own State colleagues I could not help but start and think of all the things that I ( and Senator Eggleston) had done to assist in the original election and subsequent re-election of those very same colleagues.

I, co-incidently, have sitting on my desk, an account for $18,803.48 that I incurred for one (only one of the two) mailouts I did throughout the Federal electorate of Kalgoorlie. As I was not even a candidate at the last election and did the two mailouts to specifically assist Barry in his campaign by informing the electorate (as is my right) about the initiatives of the government, I am wondering if you Barry, will now pay for the mailout and leave me with some funds in my entitlement for the remainder of this financial year?

(You may also care to pay me for the other mailout postage, which by memory was in the vicinity of $11,000). As you clearly place no importance on reciprocal loyalty or show any sign of gratitude to my staff and volunteers who worked around the clock and on weekends to specifically assist you, I consider that this is the last that you can do.

Secondly, as far as Judi goes, I went into bat for her prior to the election when a constituent of hers (and a man previously known to me) made what I considered outrageous accusations about her in widely distributed emails. This I did on a number of occasions and you, Judi know full well what I did in defence of you as you only yesterday made reference to the person again.

You also know that as a direct result of my intervention that person ceased to cause you pain until after the election. That’s the thanks I get from you for that and all the times I have defended you as a Minister and represented you in your electorate. What do you propose to do to rectify two clearly collaborated wrongs?

Since prior to Geoff’s first election, when I almost lived in the electorate of Forrest at his request, outlining the pitfalls of the Labor proposals of the Australia Card and the Bill of rights, I have always assisted him in every way possible and defended him in his removal from the Ministry.

This I have done, I believe, for all my colleagues over my entire parliamentary career.

For me and Senator Eggleston to be shafted so blatantly and almost joyously, is obnoxious.

I want to know from you, Jim and Joanna, what you propose to do about BOTH of these events whereby you have entered into an agreement with your counterparts with obviously no intention of carrying it through?

Why did you break your word? Why did you continue to do so even when you were reminded of the agreement? What do you propose to do about it?

I am sending this document to each of you in an envelope marked ‘PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL’. It is not my wish to include anyone else in the distribution as I do not wish this to fall into the hands of those who seek to further damage us.

Signed SUE KNOWLES.

ends

Crikey has to ask: would you vote for this woman?

Crikey was intrigued to learn more about this hard working and dedicated Senator so we contacted our man in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to find out something of her previous overseas freebee junkets.

Wouldn’t you know it. Senator Knowles went on a junket right smack bang in the middle of the 1998 federal election when she was a candidate. In fact, according to DFAT records, Senator Knowles travelled to Russia first class and this was after the federal election had been called.

Knowles would have had no trouble winning that trip because every other member and Senator in Australia was in their electorate campaigning. It would have been “no contest”.

Rather than campaigning for her party, her colleagues or herself, Knowles was swanning around the world. Crikey will publish a list of her other junkets at a later date.

The other matter which strikes Crikey is Knowles reference to taxpayer postage. Knowles claims to have spent $29,803.48 of taxpayers money attempting to get the member for Kalgoorlie elected, when as she said, she was not even a candidate. (Senators of course only come up for election every second election)

What Knowles appears to be saying is that she incurred this enormous bill on behalf of the taxpayers to get one of her colleagues elected and now that he has not rewarded her with his vote, she wants the money back. Surely that deserves a closer look at Senators use of postage entitlements.

Peter Fray

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