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Recalling yet another taxpayer-funded hotel bill run up by a Federal Liberal MP

January 30, 2014 - 00:15 -- Admin

As Federal Liberal MP for the Gold Coast and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Steve Ciobo, has been busy this month announcing the closure of more government agency offices in regional areas such as the Northern Rivers in order to reduce government expenditure, I was reminded of his own record of spending at taxpayers’ expense. News.com.au 13 July 2012:Liberal MP Steve Ciobo and wife Astra's luxury lodgings in New York at the Bristal Plaza. Source: The Daily TelegraphFEARING a diplomatic incident, Australian consular officials in New York have had to step in and settle an outstanding $8000 hotel bill for a Liberal MP who is still refusing to pay.Federal politician Steve Ciobo has vowed to fight the federal government in court over the account for a three-month stay at New York's ritzy Bristol Plaza late last year while he was on a US exchange program.An email obtained by The Daily Telegraph revealed the incident reached the highest diplomatic levels in New York, after the hotel issued a letter of demand for the bill to be paid."The lack of payment is causing irreparable damage to the relationship (consulate) Post has enjoyed with the Bristol Plaza dating back more than 10 years," said the email to the Department of Finance from the Australian Consulate-General in New York City, dated May this year."Furthermore we fear it may negatively affect the reputation of the Australian Government more broadly throughout the network of hotels and agencies in New York."The consulate warned that the hotel was threatening to take the Australian government to court to recover the money which had been in arrears for six months.The outstanding amount of $7486 was finally paid by the Australian mission in New York to prevent a diplomatic controversy.But the Department of Finance in Canberra is refusing to reimburse the mission and has issued several letters of demand to Mr Ciobo to pay up......In 2011 the Dept. of Finance recorded total overseas travel expenses of $93,828.49 by Mr. Ciobo -  $23,041.53 from January to June and $70,786.96 from July to December.A total of $65,696.90 is listed as expenses incurred in the U.S. between 10 September and 16 December 2011, with $41,471.33 of that being costs of accommodation and meals.It is uncertain as to whether Mr. Ciobo ever repaid the debt he incurred in New York in 2011 while reportedly on a United Nations exchange program funded by the Australian government.In 2012 an apparently chastened Member for the Gold Coast was recorded as only spending $7,522.45 on overseas travel during a six-day ‘study’  trip to Israel over the end-of-year parliamentary break and, in the first half of 2013 he spent nothing at all.