Craig Kelly poses with a pallet of fake trillion dollar notes in response to the 2021 budget (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Liberal-turned-independent-turned-United-Australia-Party-rookie MP Craig Kelly spent more than $112,000 of taxpayer’s money on printing and trips to the Gold Coast in the first quarter after jumping ship from the Liberal Party to the crossbench earlier this year.

The Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority published this week the reported work expenses for federal politicians from April to June this year, including breakdowns of claims for expenditure on travel, office and employee costs.

Craig Kelly’s biggest expense by far was $111,654 on printing and communications. He had spent less than $40,000 for each of the three quarters prior to this.

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This expenditure was second only to Labor NSW MP Justine Elliot, who spent $126,000 on printing and communications.

Kelly, member for Hughes — an electorate in Sydney’s south — also expensed two trips to the Gold Coast’s Coolangatta Airport for a total of $906.28 in fares. One was a same-day return trip on April 26, the second from the May 3 to May 5.

As part of his travel allowance, Kelly claimed $552 for two nights in Southport for “Parties Duties & Outside Electorate Duties”. He didn’t claim anything else for the April 26 trip.

Kelly quit the Liberals in February and last month announced he was joining the United Australia Party, a political vehicle run by Clive Palmer — who owns homes in and around the Gold Coast.

Kelly’s booming expenditure shows his efforts to fight for his political survival. No longer buoyed by a major political machine in a seat that has been held by the major parties for half a century, he’s turned to other means to get his word out.

Kelly has been contacted for comment.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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