SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG

LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

MEDIA RELEASE

17 August 2014

PM’S GHOST LODGE COSTS TAXPAYERS $130,000

The empty Canberra house leased for Prime Minister Tony Abbott between September and November 2013 cost taxpayers $130,000 or more than $1,666 a night.

New costs revealed in answer to a Senate question on notice include additional legal costs, brokerage fees, utilities bills and gardening costs for this empty house – these new costs come on top of a $65,000 termination fee incurred to break the lease and $39,000 in dead rent revealed by the Opposition earlier this year.

The cheap headlines associated with the Prime Minister’s move into the Australian Federal Police College have proved very expensive indeed for taxpayers.

Evidence to a Senate Estimates hearing in November 2013 confirms that Mr Abbott was advised during the 2013 election campaign that the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet proposed to lease a residence for use during repairs to The Lodge and was invited to inspect the property.

The only aspect of this saga more outrageous than the cost is the fact it has taken the Prime Minister nine months to come clean on the scale of his expensive media stunt.

The full costs of the 78 day lease obtained by the Opposition are listed below:

 

Item Cost to taxpayers
Settlement with lessor $65,000
Rent $39,107
Legal advice – termination of lease $14,144
Legal advice – lease $4,266
Brokerage – identify property $3,272
Brokerage – new tenant $1,402
Telephone service $1,135
Electricity $638
Telephone installation $435
Garden maintenance $224
Gas $204
TOTAL $129,827

 

Sources:

Answer to Senate question no.410 (asked in April 2014, answered in July 2014)

Evidence to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee, Budget Estimates, Hansard, 27 May 2014, pp.23-25

Answer to Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee, Additional Estimates, February 2014, question no.80

Answer to Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee, Supplementary Budget Estimates, November 2013, question no.88

Evidence to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee, Supplementary Budget Estimates, Hansard, 18 November 2013, pp.85-87 and pg.88