George Brandis charged the taxpayer to read his colleagues’ and mate’s books, as well as Gerard Henderson’s biography of B.A. Santamaria. In the release of politician’s entitlements, among the newspaper subscriptions, flights to and from Canberra and thousands of dollars spent on flags, our elected officials claimed back from the Department of Finance, were many books written by the politicians themselves.

Many MPs use their publication allowances to buy books to stock in their offices to give out to kids at schools, or visits, like Liberal MP Ian Goodenough’s purchase of Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, or To Kill a Mockingbird, but others are less self-evident as to what they’re actually wanting to use it for.

For example, George Brandis purchased Greg Sheridan’s When We Were Young and Foolish, a biography by Sheridan of his time as a student with Tony Abbott, Bob Carr, and Malcolm Turnbull. He also bought a copy of the book on Tony Abbott’s undoing — Battleground: Why the Liberal Party Shirtfronted Tony Abbott, along with Christopher Pyne’s memoir A Letter to My Children. Brandis was one of two MPs — the other being Labor’s Jacinta Collins — to use taxpayer dollars to buy Gerard Henderson’s Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man.

Much is always made of LNP MP George Christensen’s reading habits, and he doesn’t disappoint again this year, with an extensive collection of books on Islam and Islamic State, including:

  • The Secure Freedom Strategy: A Plan for Victory Over the Global Jihad Movement
  • Now They Call Me Infidel
  • ISIS Exposed
  • Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East
  • Shariah: The Threat to America: An Exercise in Competitive Analysis
  • The ISIS Crisis: What You Really Need to Know
  • ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror

He also, for some reason, bought a primer book on libertarianism. He might be able to start a monthly book club with the most unlikeliest of counterparts, with Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon also purchasing ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror.

Some books purchased by MPs point to a contemplation on issues they might be concerned about. Greens MP Adam Bandt purchased After Capitalism, while former government MP turned independent turned former MP Dennis Jensen, known for his romance novelist ways, steered clear of anything too erotic, buying Pyne’s book, as well as, strangely, a copy of Tony Abbott’s now six-year-old book Battlelines, and Paddy Manning’s biography on Malcolm Turnbull, Born to Rule.

Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie bought a copy of Julia Gillard’s book My Story, while Barry O’Sullivan may be the only MP in Australia to subscribe to the New York Post. The politician, who is on the record as being opposed to same-sex marriage, and last year said he had never met anyone who was homophobic, might be revisiting his decision. He bought two books on same-sex marriage: When Gay People Get Married and Same Sex Marriage: Pro and Con. The two titles explain what happens when societies legalise same-sex marriage.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has two interesting titles: The Big Book of Australian History and, if that’s too much, A Shorter History of Australia.

Outside of book purchases, there is one interesting line item from the former member for Mackellar that led to her being the former member for Mackellar.

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Peter Fray

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