News National Labor slams Peter Dutton’s ‘unacceptable’ $550,000 bill for parties and furniture

Labor slams Peter Dutton’s ‘unacceptable’ $550,000 bill for parties and furniture

peter dutton
Peter Dutton has rejoiced in the deportation of a Canberra bikie being sent packing back to New Zealand. Photo: AAP
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Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s department splashed out more than $450,000 on functions and parties in a year, and spent another $100,000 on furniture including a $1400 coffee table.

The lashing out on soirees and office refits was slammed by Labor’s immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann as “completely unacceptable”.

Revelations about the lavish spending come after the Australian Border Force had to cut staff hours at airports over Christmas due to budget shortfalls.

But the Home Affairs Department defended the 2017/18 costs as reasonable after they were revealed in government documents.

The breakdown of the $452,922.39 of corporate hospitality included one $60,000 dinner with representatives of World Customs Organisation in Cairns.

A further $35,000 was spent entertaining officials from Oceania Customs Organisation during a four-day confab in Melbourne.

Almost 150 functions ranging from between a few hundred dollars to more than $2500 were held in overseas locations including Washington DC, Fiji, Berlin, New Delhi and Hong Kong as part of stakeholder engagement.

Meanwhile, the Australian Federal Police spent another $111,263 on corporate functions and Austrac paid out $105,000 for corporate events.

Back at home, Mr Dutton’s office scored interior decorating updates including $43,000 on office storage units, $13,000 on meeting room chairs and $9000 on two sofas.

The minister can enjoy his morning coffee and debrief on a coffee table costing $1400.

Labor accused the minister of prioritising entertainment and office furniture over national security, after it was revealed the Australian Border Force curtailed patrols late last year to save money on fuel.

Mr Neumann said the figures showed an “excessive” spending of taxpayers’ money.

“It is unacceptable that Peter Dutton has prioritised spending more than half a billion of taxpayers’ dollars on entertainment and office furniture over national security,” he said in a statement on Friday.

The ALP also queried why no details were available on who attended the dinners.

“Peter Dutton needs to explain why he thinks it’s appropriate for his department to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars on entertainment and office furniture,” Mr Neumann said.

A Home Affairs Department spokesman said the expenses were less than one per cent of its total expenses and that stakeholder engagement was needed to deliver its “broad national security mandate”.

“As is clearly evidenced … the expenses referenced are reasonable and requisite for the corporate functions of a government department,” he said.

He said the formation of the department required staff relocations and the upgraded offices meant the department could better “handle classified information” from a security point of view.

The New Daily contacted Mr Dutton’s office for comment.

-with AAP