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Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd spends $600,000 on travel

Kevin Rudd 59%

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Oh, to have Kevin Rudd's travel kitty.

In the first seven months of the Rudd government, the prime minister's overseas jaunts cost taxpayers just over $600,000, according to a register of parliamentary travel released on Thursday.

But it wasn't just money being dished out.

Mr Rudd handed back $105.85 related to a trip to Hong Kong in December 2005. It was revealed earlier this year that Mr Rudd used the visit as an excuse to get out of a dinner with disgraced former WA premier Brian Burke.

The biggest ticket item on Mr Rudd's travel itinerary was an 18-day round-the-world trip, which took him to the United States, Romania, Belgium, Britain and China - at a cost of $427,539.

The register, which covers the period from January to June 2008, included trips to Indonesia, East Timor and the Middle East, which occurred late in 2007.

Mr Rudd's travel expenses for the second half of 2008, which will be released in mid-2009, are likely to be just as substantial.

The prime minister has already ventured to Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, China, New Zealand, Niue, twice to the United States, Peru, and is heading again to Indonesia next week.

However, political turmoil in Thailand means a trip there has been cancelled.

Globe-trotting Trade Minister Simon Crean, who has travelled the world prosecuting Australia's trading interests, accumulated an overseas travel bill in excess of $300,000.

The only politician who managed to rack up travel expenses in excess of $100,000 without being a minister or a parliamentary secretary was Liberal Alan Ferguson, the former Senate president.

He totted up overseas travel worth $125,047, made up of a two-week trip to Britain in January to attend a conference of speakers and presiding officers of the commonwealth.

In April, he spent just under a month travelling to the Netherlands, Belgium, Britain and Portugal, leading a delegation to parliamentary institutions.

Special mention should go to Labor rising star, Bill Shorten.

The Victorian MP was one of only a handful of politicians to have paid heed to a long-term directive to use frequent flyer points to redeem airfares where possible.

Mr Shorten saved taxpayers the most money, taking frequent flyer flights worth more than $9,000.

Others to use points travel included Labor's John Faulkner, Daryl Melham and Martin Ferguson, former senators Lyn Allison and Natasha Stott Despoja from the Australian Democrats and Liberals Bruce Billson and Russell Trood.

In a separate report on domestic travel by former politicians and governors-general, WA-based former opposition leader Kim Beazley was the biggest spender, accumulating $25,000 worth of domestic airfares in the first six months of 2008.

Former prime minister John Howard, who lost government and his seat last year, spent $2,856 on domestic airfares.

Mr Howard, who is reportedly getting a refresher course in driving after being ferried about for 11 and a half years as prime minister, also ran up a bill worth $8,207 for the use of a commonwealth car.


December 4, 2008 - 7:08PM


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