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Imperial Suite, Ritz Hotel Paris

Encourage Our Politicians to Travel

At least twice a year the national media becomes concerned over apparent misuse of parliamentary travel allowances. This week it's the Prime Minister's turn to face the braying of the press as he stands accused of cynically organising a visit to a cancer hospital in Melbourne so he could justify claiming the cost of attending a Liberal Party fundraiser the next day.

Business as usual you say? Nothing out of the ordinary? Indeed it appears that way. Recall when Mark Latham was roundly criticised for breaking the arm of a Sydney taxi driver in a tussle over a disputed cab fare. While the media at the time attacked Mr. Latham and accused him of violence nobody recognised he was going into bat for the taxpayer.

While the left and right of our political class broadly agree on every big-ticket tax-and-spend program our public debate focusses on the nickel and dime.

Come December each year the Parliamentary horde departs Canberra and disperses to the five star corners of the world on "fact finding" missions. Hoping to identify new opportunities in Paris, New York and Disneyland, there is occasional grumbling from the media pack. However it's nothing compared to the fury which erupts over an inaccurately completed cabcharge voucher.

If cost saving is the reason for public indignation over Mr. Abbott's last trip to Melbourne it seems the media has things back-to-front. The solution to our budget crisis is not to restrict politicians' travel entitlements but to throw the gates open. Demand our politicans spend the majority of their terms in transit. Whether they like it or not.

The cost of a first class airfare to Paris and a couple of weeks at the Ritz is a mere drop in the ocean compared to fiascos like the NBN, budget stimulus packages, waging wars against goat herders in Afghanistan, etc. Frankly, the longer our politicians spend somewhere else, the better for all of us.

To encourage our elected members to spend more time overseas the promotional products blog suggests something like this with customised name and address details would be a fitting travel accoutrement which ensured their duty-free purchases slip through border security without being subject to GST.

So next time you spot a screaming headline calling for our elected representatives to spend more time at their desks, remember, this is a far more costly option.

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