February 25, 2009 11:00pm
PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has splurged close to $3.4 million on overseas travel since coming to power. The globe-trotting PM has racked up one overseas trip every month on average - and spent close to one in six days on foreign soil.
Five-star accommodation and meals cost just over $100,000 while the cost of commercial airfares for Mr Rudd's advance team hit $52,000. Mr Rudd took 11 of his personal staff and wife Therese Rein, along with public servants, security personnel and his personal GP. Another big spending visit - to Japan and Indonesia last June - cost taxpayers $547,000. The PM's entourage spent $32,000 on hospitality alone. Former diplomat Mr Rudd has been privately criticised by some of his own colleagues for spending so much time away.
He cancelled an overseas trip - to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and to India - in late January as the global economic meltdown worsened. But the PM, dubbed Kevin 747, has racked up plenty of frequent flyer points as he seeks to recast Australia's image as a middle-ranking power. Last night, the Opposition's shadow special minister of state Michael Ronaldson described the expenditure as an "absolute disgrace". "On several trips, he took 12 or 13 family members and staff with him. It was 'Emperor Kevin and his Manchu Court' flying off to see the world," Mr Ronaldson said. But the PM hit back, saying it was essential to meet global leaders to discuss a solution to the world's economic crisis.
"You can be part of the global response to the global financial crisis or you can sit back and watch it on CNN," a spokesman for Mr Rudd said. The Government also pointed out that former PM John Howard spent about $25 million of taxpayers' money on overseas travel while in office.
Australia's very own "community organizer" International Socialist,and United Nations lick spittle, Kevin "I have never been a socialist" Rudd, busy looking after Australia's "working families" and delivering "change" since November 2007 Australia's unemployment has risen, bankruptcies are rising, small businesses are closing down, and he has spent all of the 28 billion dollar surplus the (great Satan) Conservative Howard Government left him, Australia's "working families" code for Labor voters and Union members, are about to live for the first time in 12 years the ideology of their and their socialist pin up boys who are the Australian Labor Government led by Kevin 07 or more correctly a government and leader with the same amount of substance and depth as the bumper sticker slogans and ideology that got them elected.