Embattled and forgetful MP David Feeney has revealed has been claiming travel allowance on his wife’s Canberra property, costing taxpayers more than $9000 in the first six months of 2015 alone.
The Australian has revealed that Mr Feeney’s wife, Liberty Sanger, a lawyer at prominent legal firm Maurice Blackman, owns a unit in a swish Canberra development which the newspaper has estimated to be worth more than $1 million. Mr Feeney has been staying at the property owned through Ms Sanger’s family trust and claiming the parliamentary travel allowance of $270 a night. In doing so, Mr Feeney has not broken any rules of parliamentary entitlement.
The Australian reported that the Canberra unit, which is across the road from Parliament House, is not specifically listed on his return in the register of interests, although the Liberty Sanger Family Trust is declared. Former treasurer Joe Hockey was found in 2014 to be doing the same with his wife’s Canberra property, at the time saying it was a common and legitimate practice being employed by other MPs.
The latest news come on top of yesterday’s revelation that Mr Feeney owns a $2.3 million negatively geared property in Northcote, in his Melbourne seat of Batman, which he failed to declare on his register of interests, sparking a wave of attacks on Labor and Mr Feeney by the Coalition. After claiming he wasn’t sure whether the property was negatively geared, he admitted later in the day that the property was in fact negatively geared.
The Northcote is on top of a swish East Melbourne apartment that he owns with his wife, bought for $2.875 million in 2010 in the Greens-held seat of Melbourne, as well as an investment property in Seddon in Melbourne’s inner west bought for $380,000 in 2004.
Mr Feeney has been an outspoken critic of negative gearing, saying the top 20 per cent of income earners get 70 per cent of the benefits from the concessions. He labelled it a “scheme for rich investors that reduces housing affordability” and cited reports claiming the rules cost ordinary taxpayers $310 a year by giving tax breaks to investors.