Former MP spends less than colleagues | Data

FORMER Calare MP John Cobb was the most frugal of the region’s three federal members in the six months to June, but he says there’s no mystery as to why.

Mr Cobb retired in May and has since been replaced by former member for Orange Andrew Gee.

Compared to fellow Nationals, Riverina MP Michael McCormack and Parkes MP Mark Coulton, Mr Cobb spent the least.

He spent $6279 in travelling allowances, $97.30 in overseas travel, $2544.24 in domestic airfares, nothing in charter costs and $22,741.11 in car costs.

Office facilities cost him $54,263.97, while administrative costs were $78,520.98.

Telecommunications cost the taxpayer $5829.42 and he claimed $103.74 in family travel costs.

“It’s pretty obvious [why it was less] – I didn’t travel as much, Mark has a bigger electorate and Michael’s on the frontbench,” he said.

“It’s common sense, it’s not rocket science.”

After Health Minister Sussan Ley stood aside pending an investigation into her purchase of a $795,000 Gold Coast apartment on a taxpayer-funded trip classed as official business, Mr Cobb said he wouldn’t comment on her circumstances.

“It’s no good people saying it should be black and white because the situation is rarely black and white,” he said.

“If it’s too lax, the wrong thing can happen.”

Mr McCormack defended the government’s handling of Ms Ley while her entitlement claims were investigated and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Martin Parkinson would objectively determine whether expenses were rorted or not. 

“It’s right that Sussan Ley steps aside,” he said. 

“Travel allowances come from taxpayers’ hard-earned money and they need to be put through proper scrutiny.”

Charles Sturt University politics lecturer Troy Whitford conceded flights worth $3900 wouldn’t blow a hole in the national budget, but charging the public purse “treated voters with contempt”.

“It might not be illegal, it might not even be against regulations, but come on, common sense says you shouldn't be using taxpayers funds for personal travel and enjoyment,” he said.

“It goes back to political integrity; it's not so much about the sum of money, it's the trust we put in politicians to serve our best interests.

“If we start lowering the bar – saying we all cheat here and there – it's a slippery slope to corruption.”

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