Taxpayers are footing a hefty bill for Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s cook and an attendant to change his sheets and towels at the federal police college in Canberra.
Mr Abbott took up the modest AFP college room after knocking back a luxury Canberra rental house he was supposed to occupy while The Lodge is being renovated.
The cost of providing a cook who prepares his meals at Parliament House, an attendant, a house manager and garden maintenance for The Lodge will total $1.6 million this year, rising to $1.85 million in four years.
“So the end of the age of entitlement doesn’t apply to the prime minister’s residence,” Labor Senator Penny Wong told a Senate estimates hearing on Tuesday.
Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet senior official Rebecca Cross said the rise in expenses over coming years would keep the spending in line with inflation.
Ms Cross said it was the case for all prime ministers that they were provided with food “while in residence at The Lodge”.
“During the period the prime minister is residing at the AFP college, we have retained some of the staff that provided cooking for the prime minister and minor household duties,” she said.
“And they do provide those services to the prime minister at the AFP college. The cook is at Parliament House.”
Asked what duties the attendant carried out, the committee was told they relate to “linen and towels and services of that nature”.