Tony Abbott defeat election 2019

Ah, Tony Abbott, the gift that just keeps on taking.

This week the nation digested the news that the commissioner of the fiscal fire brigade spent $135,000 in taxpayers money on unused and useless medals for his doomed knights and dames program, presumably now being put to use somewhere in Canberra as the world’s most handsome and costly paper weights.

Of course, Abbott is not around to face our collective incredulity and/or a second round of humiliation over the scheme that effectively ended his stay in the lodge — he’s using his “auto exemption” to jaunt around Europe, most recently spotted attending a service led by his exonerated friend Cardinal George Pell.

It got Crikey thinking — are we paying for all this too, or is this part of the trade adviser role he took up against our interests for the British government?

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So we asked the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA): is the Commonwealth paying for (or contributing to) the cost of Abbott’s travel, and if so, how much is it costing us?

They generally don’t comment on individuals outside their quarterly expenditure reports, but they confirmed that they/we hadn’t paid for the overseas travel of any former PMs this year. And we note that in previous reports — say, those from the second half of 2019, when Tony was palling about with Hungarian far right demagogue/”illiberal democrat” Viktor Orban — Abbott has not claimed any money for overseas travel.

We should have known Abbott would very happily pay his own way to see the likes of Orban and Pell.