Footage has emerged of Liberal senator Lucy Gichuhi, who is mired in an expenses scandal, claiming her $200,000 politician’s wage is “not a lot of money”.
“Two-hundred thousand Australian dollars. In a whole year, that’s not a lot of money,” she told Kenyan channel Citizen TV in an interview earlier this year.
When the journalist converted the sum into Kenyan shillings, estimating her yearly wage to be roughly 16 times that of a Kenyan politician, Senator Gichuhi changed her answer.
“So it’s, it’s not, it’s, it’s, it’s a reasonable pay,” she stammered.
Earlier, she had said “nobody can compensate” Australian politicians enough because they “work so hard, 24/7”.
When asked if she received any “perks”, Senator Gichuhi said she was provided with a car and “all of those other things are taken care of, yeah”.
The footage was widely circulated on social media over the weekend after reports Senator Gichuhi, who joined the Liberals in February, had billed taxpayers more than $2000 to fly two family members to Adelaide in October last year for a belated 50th birthday celebration. (Ms Gichuhi was 55 at the time).
“This was an administrative error involving misunderstanding of travel rules,” she wrote on Twitter on Sunday, in response to the scandal.
“I’ve raised an invoice from the department to pay the costs of $2139 in full.”
Later on Monday, Senator Gichuhi said she now realised the expenses claim was “inappropriate”.
“It was an administrative error and I know how inappropriate it was,” she told ABC Radio on Monday.
“It was an error and as soon as we got to know of it we fixed it.”
The freshly-minted Liberal has promised to repay the funds in full, but said she was still waiting for the appropriate government department to raise an invoice.
She is yet to comment publicly on the Kenyan TV interview.
Senator Gichuhi entered Parliament last year after Family First’s Bob Day was ruled ineligible to sit in the Senate.
She was elected in Mr Day’s place because she had been Family First’s second candidate on its SA ticket at the 2016 election.
Before entering Parliament, Senator Gichuhi worked as an accountant at Ernst and Young and for the South Australian Auditor-General. She also has a law degree and is admitted to practice in South Australia, according to her campaign video.