Former Labor MP Michael Danby charged taxpayers hundreds of greenbacks to pay one of his staffer’s consultancy fees to offer an after-hours “communications service” that covered writing an anti-Greens opinion piece.
Invoice files from Danby’s workplace, released thru freedom of records law, the display he contracted a firm named Developer Approvals Australia for more than a few communications consultancy work between October 2018 and February 2019.
The work protected advice on targeted social media campaigns for the citizens, coordinating work to be performed with the aid of a video production employer for Danby, briefing a graphic fashion designer on ads to be taken out within the neighborhood press, and other obligations generally handled using voters staff.
Included within the invoices published through the department are “development of communications – pictures and replica for mass mailout of the voters (anti-Green)” and the “writing of anti-green op-ed for Australian Financial Review.” The character fees of the items had been redacted.
According to an ASIC search, James Bingham is the sole director of Developer Approvals Australia. Bingham turned into a staffer for Danby. In his valedictory speech, Danby paid tribute to Bingham for returning to Australia from Spain to help Danby out with the final eight months of his political career.
Danby confirmed to Guardian Australia that the bill associated with payments to one among his staffers. But he stated the communications work had been done outdoor of ordinary paintings hours.
Danby additionally stated he had received approval from the relevant branch for the use of the consultant.
“Unlike the Green Party who has a report of exploiting unpaid interns, I agree with human beings need to be paid for the work they do,” Danby instructed Guardian Australia.
“The staffer worried provided a communications service out of doors regular work hours,” he stated.
“Many MPs use specialists and need to get approval from the dep. (as I did) for their tasks.”
The general fee of the work over the duration becomes $22,355.33. Greens senator, Mehreen Faruqi, criticized Danby for the arrangement and called on him to explain why he became outsourcing the writing of his opinion pieces to a consultancy owned with the aid of his former staffer.
“As well as the issue of taxpayer finances being used for a partisan hit piece, it’s simply completely lazy to outsource your ‘opinion’ writing to a former staffer’s consultancy,” Faruqi advised Guardian Australia.
“Michael Danby has a few explaining to do.”
The department of finance stated it did no longer comment on people or individual price claims. But it stated more extensively that printing and communications charges have to be “for the dominant motive of undertaking parliamentary commercial enterprise” and have to be value for cash. “Parliamentary business includes parliamentary duties, citizens duties, birthday celebration political responsibilities or legit obligations,” the branch said in an announcement.
“The office charges budget may be used for applicable printing and communications, along with mail-outs associated with an MP’s parliamentary enterprise duties.”
It’s no longer the first time Danby has used taxpayer finances for political assaults. In 2017, Danby charged taxpayers for an ad within the Australian Jewish News that accused the ABC’s then-Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill of bias in her reporting of Israel and Palestine.
Danby came underneath hearth in early 2018 for charging taxpayers for trips to Queensland and his spouse in which no parliamentary business was performed. At the time, Danby positioned the prices down to “administrative mistakes” that had because been repaid.
At the 2019 election, Danby’s Labor successor, Josh Burns, received Macnamara’s seat with a five% swing in the direction of him.