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CLAIMING ENTITLEMENT October 26, 2012

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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Unlike previous Foreign Ministers, Bob Carr, has deemed to be int he national interest to take his wife on his sorties abroad.

He claims she was a particular asset in securing Australia’s temporary position on the Security Council. She is able to put in appearances, which otherwise would not be made. And she flies economy to keep the costs down. However, a freedom of information inquiry shows that her presence travelling overseas with the Foreign Minister has increased the costs by $120,000.

Dan Harrison in The Sydney Morning Herald has the story. Carr claimed the presence of his wife was “absolutely justified” – whatever that might mean. Dan Harrison notes:

The spokesman [for Senator Carr] defended Mrs Carr’s presence on the trips, saying they had followed the relevant ministerial guidelines and everything had been approved by the Prime Minister’s office.
Those guidelines say ministers are ”generally not accompanied on official overseas travel by his or her spouse or de facto partner”. But exceptions will be made when host countries have extended an invitation to the spouse and where an official program of engagements has been arranged.

That every trip is an exception seems somewhat of a stretch. The article notes:

Shadow foreign minister Julie Bishop said today Senator Carr appeared to be in breach of the guidelines for ministerial travel.
”I am not aware of any formal role to which Mrs Carr has been appointed in terms of promoting Australia’s foreign aid program and Minister Carr must explain the basis of this informal role,” she said.
”Given the ministerial guidelines, the Prime Minister should also reveal the basis of her decision to approve Mrs Carr’s travel and the nature of Mrs Carr’s official duties.
”The Foreign Minister has taken an unorthodox approach to several aspects of his job, including consular support and travel arrangements.”

Senator Carr’s record on defending the rights of Australian citizens overseas has not been spectacular to date, with the characteristic and dismissive one-liners in play:

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