Tony Abbott’s “Freedom Commissioner” has reportedly racked up nearly $78,000 in luxury travel expenses from his government-funded employers in his first year in office.
Tim Wilson, a Human Rights Commissioner, was called up to the role from the right-wing think tank, the Institute for Public Affairs.
Among his claims, Mr Wilson has charged the Human Rights Commission $13,800 for his partner’s travel, Fairfax Media reported.
But that figure is under the $14,562 Mr Wilson has had reimbursed for taxi fares, $17,800 for meals, $26,000 for domestic airfares and $11,000 for business class travel overseas (of which $2000 was later paid back by his hosts), Fairfax reported.
Approached to explain the 12 months of costs from February 2014, he reportedly said “You’d rather I sit in my office all day?”.
The Australian Human Rights Commission defended Mr Wilson’s expenses, saying they were “proportionate” to his workload.
“Last year the Human Rights Commissioner completed two major national consultations which required travel to remote, rural and regional Australia as well as capital cities,” a statement from the commission said.
Mr Wilson has been dubbed the Freedom Commissioner, or “Freedom Boy”, as he entered the role with a focus on defending freedom of speech and a free media.
The Institute for Public Affairs’ Sinclair Davidson has argued to reduce government expenditure, and one path is to cut wages for public servants.
Mr Wilson earns $332,000 and gets a $40,000 accommodation allowance.
The government has waged war on the Human Rights Commission as Attorney General George Brandis axed Graeme Innis’ role as Disability Commissioner.
Senator Brandis and the government’s top brass including Speaker Bronwyn Bishop have voiced criticisms of Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs.