Turn back the delegates? We hear from a tipster that finding accommodation in Melbourne this weekend for the National Labor Conference will come at quite a high price for those who have made a last-minute decision to attend:

“Hotel room prices have gone through the roof. One conference observer who booked weeks ago booked a room at one of the conference’s preferred hotels (The Langham if you want to go that far) for less than $250 a night. There are no rooms available for this Thursday, the first day of the conference, but yesterday they were being quoted at $800+ a night. Friday night is still available but expect to pay $515.”

We checked out the offerings on the conference website, and they’re all pretty swanky — the Hilton at South Wharf, the Langham, Crown Metropol — with some even going at $999 a night. Holding a conference is no time for tight purse strings — and who’s picking up the tab for the MPs in attendance? You guessed it.

Unfortunately we won’t see how much of that tab we’re picking up until Finance publishes the expenses filed by the pollies sometime next year. While we’re sure none of the non-Victorian MPs or senators attending the conference will take the Bronwyn chopper, the taxpayer is still looking at footing the bill for at least 57 MPs and senators to fly to Melbourne this week. This includes 22 NSW politicians, 10 Queensland politicians, eight from South Australia, six from Western Australia, six from Tasmania, three from the ACT, and two from the Northern Territory.

Comparing the cost for flights to the 2011 Labor National Conference in Sydney is no help, either. There are varying costs even just for MPs travelling from Melbourne to Sydney. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, for example, charged taxpayers $1095 for his return flights, while fellow Victorian Jenny Macklin’s flights cost $540.


Why so much for such a short flight? Shorten’s office told us our questions on the flight costs were best directed to the travel agents.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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