Dear Mr Abbott,
On the evening of Monday, 7th October last year, I had to take my wife to Melbourne Airport for a flight early on Tuesday morning. We could have travelled really early on the Tuesday, but we decided it was better to avoid any unforeseen delays and just stay at the airport hotel on the Monday night.
It was a purely personal trip, but as luck would have it, I had a work meeting in the CBD on the Tuesday morning. Naturally, I didn’t for a moment consider charging my employer for the accommodation, or even the travel, which I would have had to do anyway – the meeting the following morning was a happy accident of timing.
I never questioned my decision until last week.
The reason I’m telling you this is because as prime minister – or “team captain” as you’ve taken to describing your position – you set an example for all of us.
So I was intrigued to read that you explained your lateness to a parliamentary party meeting by saying that you had to pay a visit to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in order to justify a parliamentary expenses claim for a private visit to Melbourne the night before.
Therefore, I have two questions:
Firstly, is it true? I’ve heard conflicting reports, but you refused to answer (24:36 in video) a question on the subject because it was two days old. I think you’ll find the statute of limitations on rorting expenses is a bit longer than that. Just ask Craig Thomson.
Secondly, if it is true, then can you tell me if I’ve made a bad decision? My employers are the best, and although my income is humble, I consider myself to be very well treated. Have I taken the wrong lesson from my Catholic upbringing? Should I just grab all I can get while the getting is good? Like you, my wages are ultimately paid by the taxpayer, so does that make it a kind of victimless crime? I mean, I think I’m paid enough, but I’m not paid anywhere nearly as much as you are. And if you still have to fiddle your schedule in order to afford a stay in Melbourne, then am I, who technically qualify as a low income earner, just being a fool to myself? My claim, like yours, might possibly be legitimate - I just felt it would be immoral.
I’m sure you can appreciate my dilemma and I would appreciate your advice.
Of course, given the conflicting reports, it might not have happened at all. So please Mr Abbott, as my leader, my captain and as a man of morals, say it ain’t so. But please mean it. And no sneaky paying it back before making a statement, please.