This morning, an unrepentant Trade Minister Steve Ciobo told ABC’s AM program that attending the AFL grand final in 2013 and charging taxpayers in flights and car costs for the privilege was part of the job of being a minister, and taxpayers expected him to charge them for it.

“I go along to games here in my own electorate, I use a taxpayer-funded vehicle to get there, and I think people expect that.”

“I would love to see Australia’s Prime Minister … at a key game … between the Wallabies and the All Blacks …”

He said it was work business because the companies inviting him along to the games were showcasing their businesses to the ministers invited.

That raises an interesting prospect for other claims made by other parliamentarians, if we are going to look at the sorts of businesses showing off their services to ministers. For instance, Kevin Andrews, when he was defence minister in 2014, went to the Emirates Stakes Day and Cox Plate, with gambling giant William Hill picking up the tab. But he did slog taxpayers with $334.05 and $324.88 in Comcar costs on those days respectively.

If we are going to start examining the businesses wining and dining our MPs at sporting and other cultural events and look into the value to ministers, Ciobo might have opened up a much larger can of worms than he realises.

Peter Fray

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