MY SAY: MPs may as well just burn our money
That's about how much the 150 MPs combined could claim every term of Parliament, to jet-set around the globe with their dearly beloved under the thin guise of studies or investigations relating to their duties as MPs.
I haven't even checked to see whether the 76 Australian Senators are included in that entitlement, or what b******* excuse they can claim their holidays under.
Thankfully that allowance - an entitlement enabling MPs to take their partners on one overseas trip per term - which The Daily Telegraph this week reported was capped at the price of two, first-class, round-the-world airfares (reportedly about $23,000), was scrapped in August.
The only way a weaker message could've been sent about travel and entitlement rorting would've been to shovel taxpayers' dollars into the jet engines on the runway as our overpaid, under-performing elected reps headed off on what were no doubt exhaustive, investigatory expeditions.
Did I mention MPs were able to claim the cost of airfares, accommodation, food and drink on those trips as well?
Yet we are the ones told the age of entitlement must end?
I'd say the cancer that is a sense of entitlement is terminal in Canberra and it hasn't discriminated, infiltrating all sides of politics.
Melbourne Cups, AFL grand finals, polo matches, investment properties.
Sure doesn't read like the travel diaries of the average family, aka the entitled ones.
It's a thumb to the nose and a tongue poked out from the elite, career politicians who are delivering almost no tangible benefit, to those who elevated them to their apparently lofty status under the foolish notion they were electing someone intent on representing their views, not lining their own pockets.
If it's the age of innovation, let's use technology to cut some of the rampant waste that is the lifestyle of our MPs.
Sure, they can claim travel for parliamentary sittings, and even one electorate visit or constituent event a month. But let's cut it there.
The rest of their time should be spent reading our emails and feedback, understanding our views and researching, to best construct and deliver legislation.
If they wish to attend pointless ceremonies, rub shoulders with big business, many of which won't even pay taxes, purchase that cheeky third beach house or catch a major event, let's let them do it on their dime, not ours.
Ministers and shadow ministers should be given a little more travel freedom as their portfolios often cover vast regions, but that should be scrutinised to the last cent to make sure their actions are value for voter money, if not, axe them. We hired them so why can't we fire them?