It was a year ago, September
a day I well remember
I was walking up and down
in pompous pride
when my knees began to flutter
and I fell down in the gutter
and a pig came by and lay down by my side
As I lay there in the gutter
thinking thoughts I could not utter
I thought I heard a passing lady say,
“You can tell a man who’s crook
by the company he’s took…”
And with that, the pig got up and walked away
Taxpayers slugged $200,000 as Jeff Kennett rents office from his wife
Ben Schneiders and Royce Millar
Published: October 23 2017 – 7:13AM
Taxpayers have picked up a $200,000-plus tab for former premier Jeff Kennett to rent office space from his wife.
The Kennetts’ taxpayer-funded arrangement was uncovered by Fairfax Media as it investigated details about Mr Kennett’s expenses revealed following a freedom-of-information request made by the Electrical Trades Union.
The revelations are likely to rekindle controversy around publicly funded perks for Australia’s political class, the most recent row having been over Victorian Labor MPs rorting overnight travel allowances.
On Sunday Mr Kennett defended his use of his entitlements as a former premier and accused Fairfax Media of “mischief”. He said the rental payments to his wife’s superannuation fund had been verbally approved by an official during the mid-2000s under the Bracks Labor government.
In power from 1992 to 1999, Mr Kennett was an outspoken advocate for open markets and small government; he is renowned for slashing public service jobs, closing schools, and privatising transport, energy and roads.
But as a former premier Mr Kennett is entitled to a publicly funded office space and secretarial support, travel and other expenses on top of his parliamentary pension. The idea of the entitlements is to support former premiers in their ongoing public duties.
He has racked up nearly $400,000 in expenses – including 55 cents for a “giant” paper clip – since 2009 (excluding staff costs).
More than half that spending has been on the lease of an office building in Balmain Street near the Yarra River, which is owned by JGK Nominees whose sole shareholder and director is Mr Kennett’s wife, Felicity. Mr Kennett said this was his wife’s superannuation fund.
Ms Kennett’s company bought the property in 2009 for $1.1 million.