As previously reported in Crikey, when Kevin Andrews was unceremoniously dumped from the frontbench he did not lose all his perks — he took a $13,000 set of Chesterfield couches, originally bought for John Howard’s prime ministerial office, with him. The fate of the fabled couches, which originally caused consternation among parliamentary staff who felt they didn’t fit in with the decor, was discussed in Senate estimates in October, and according to documents, the whole suite of Chesterfields, including lounges and armchairs, now reside in Andrews’ office. The armchairs had sat in the office of Liberal backbencher Jason Wood, but went to Andrews when Wood lost his seat in 2010. Ms Tips thinks that might make things a bit cramped, but being anachronistic and out of place has never bothered Andrews before.

Speaking of ministerial furniture, what is the cost of moving a $15,000 bookcase? Also revealed in Senate estimates documents is the cost of moving Attorney-General George Brandis’ bookcase from the office of the deputy Senate leader to that of the Senate leader, an office to which he was promoted after September’s leadership change. It cost $1174, excluding GST, to get an external contractor to move the bookcase. The $15,000 bookcase was purchased after a $7000 bookcase was purchased in 2010, but couldn’t be moved to Brandis’ new office with the change of government. It also cost $350 to re-paint the wall in Brandis’ old office where the bookcase had been. The Senate documents also include pictures of the bookcase and Brandis’ couch and coffee table, which were also moved — while his colleague Andrews is hoarding Chesterfields, Brandis has a much more modest lounge:

brandis couch

The cost of changing prime ministers isn’t limited to moving bookcases, but also installing new nameplates for the many ministerial changes that came with the ascension of Malcolm Turnbull. It cost parliamentary services $3045 to reflect the change of prime minister and ministers, more than the cost of the change from Kevin Rudd to Julia Gillard and back to Rudd combined. The first Labor spill cost the Parliament just $720, and the second one cost $2227.50.

Peter Fray

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