Karl Stefanovic’s posted an Instagram selfie with the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (right) and her boyfriend David Panton. Stefanovic’s partner Jasmine Yarbrough is at the top of the picture.
Karl Stefanovic’s posted an Instagram selfie with the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (right) and her boyfriend David Panton. Stefanovic’s partner Jasmine Yarbrough is at the top of the picture.

Bishop claims $32k for 'boyfriend' but he's not her 'partner'

OPINION

THERE is acting "within the rules", or complying with the letter of the law, and then there is taking the absolute piss.

It now emerges that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has claimed $32,000 in taxpayer-funded "family travel" for her boyfriend of the past four years, Sydney-based property developer David Panton.

This has seen the couple pop up at A-list events around the country; swanning around marquees at the Melbourne Cup, high-end fashion launches, the Portsea Polo in Melbourne, AFL Grand Finals and society balls.

Julie Bishop with David Panton at The Portsea Polo. Picture: Sarah Matray
Julie Bishop with David Panton at The Portsea Polo. Picture: Sarah Matray

Panton even accompanied Bishop to a meeting of the UN General Assembly in 2015, sitting alongside her in the seat normally reserved for the Australian Ambassador - though she has made no claims for overseas travel with him.

For the purposes of gouging the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars to attend various jollies around Australia, Panton is nominated as "family", and as such is entitled to free use of Comcar and domestic airfares.

Yet when it comes to any other disclosure Panton is not a "partner".

This means Bishop's register of interests does not declare any gifts or free hospitality her boyfriend and family member for expenses purposes - but not partner - may have received. It also means she does not - as is required with the spouses and partners of other MPs - disclose Panton's financial interests on the register.

Vikki Campion is due to give birth in April. Picture: John Grainger
Vikki Campion is due to give birth in April. Picture: John Grainger

All this follows the Barnaby Joyce #beetrooter scandal in which it was argued the now former National Party leader had not breached any ministerial guidelines because his five-months pregnant girlfriend was not his partner at the time of certain staff appointments.

Right. And the moon is actually a wheel of Camembert.

Seriously, imagine an ordinary punter (and we pay for this malarkey) trying to argue 'family member and boyfriend but not a partner', or 'pregnant girlfriend but not a partner' with Centrelink. Good bloody luck with that one.

Vikki Campion is due to give birth in April. Picture: John Grainger
Vikki Campion is due to give birth in April. Picture: John Grainger

It may all be technically within the guidelines, but if that is the case then those rules need to change.

Perhaps we could introduce a new category of "friends with benefits", or just taxpayer-subsidised "f--- buddy"?

Because right now we are the ones being screwed here.

Barnaby Joyce. Picture Gary Ramage
Barnaby Joyce. Picture Gary Ramage


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