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Defence Minister Linda Reynolds charged taxpayers to attend mid-life crisis conference with husband

Australia’s Defence Minister charged taxpayers $5,500 so she could attend a weekend Medicare ‘mid-life crisis’ conference organised by her husband – and go to a ball.

As a new Liberal senator for Western Australia, Linda Reynolds claimed $1,268 on the public purse in May 2015 so she could fly to Brisbane return from Canberra for an Australian Medical Association cocktail party event.

Her husband Robert Reid was the AMA’s director of communications, a role he has held since 2011.

Senator Reynolds, who had just turned 50, attended the AMA’s national conference titled, ‘Medicare: midlife crisis?’.

Australia's Defence Minister Linda Reynolds (left) charged taxpayers $5,510 so she could attend a so-called weekend mid-life crisis conference with her husband Robert Reid (right), who is a spokesman for the Australian Medical Association

Australia's Defence Minister Linda Reynolds (left) charged taxpayers $5,510 so she could attend a so-called weekend mid-life crisis conference with her husband Robert Reid (right), who is a spokesman for the Australian Medical Association

Australia’s Defence Minister Linda Reynolds (left) charged taxpayers $5,510 so she could attend a so-called weekend mid-life crisis conference with her husband Robert Reid (right), who is a spokesman for the Australian Medical Association

Minister’s response in full from her spokeswoman

Senator Reynolds was officially invited by the Australian Medical Association to attend and participate in the AMA National Conference in Brisbane on 29 May 2015 to 30 May 2015, both in her capacity as a Senator for Western Australia, and as a member of both Senate Community Affairs Committees.

Senator Reynolds travelled from Perth to Broome on 3 July 2015 and returned to Perth on 5 July 2015. The Senator and her partner were officially invited to attend the NAIDOC ball. She also engaged in stakeholder community meetings and events.

This travel was parliamentary and electorate business within the guidelines. 

The forum featured a cocktail reception and gala dinner, and was held from May 29 to 31, between two sitting weeks of federal Parliament.

Archived Department of Finance records obtained exclusively by Daily Mail Australia show charged taxpayers $363.43 to fly from Canberra to Brisbane on the Friday and another $695.56 to return to Canberra on the Sunday.

On those days, Senator Reynolds also claimed the cost of Comcar transport to and from the airport in both those cities, adding up to $209. 

The West Australian Liberal ran up a $1,268 bill, even though Brisbane isn’t in her electorate.

Nonetheless, a spokeswoman for Senator Reynolds said the AMA ‘officially invited’ her to its May 2015 national conference ‘both in her capacity as a Senator for Western Australia, and as a member of both Senate Community Affairs committees’.    

Just two months later, in July 2015, Senator Reynolds charged taxpayers another $4,242 to travel 2,200km from her electorate office in Perth to Broome, a West Australian luxury resort town.

As a new Liberal senator for Western Australia, Linda Reynolds claimed $1,268 on the public purse in May 2015 so she could fly to Brisbane return from Canberra for an Australian Medical Association cocktail party event. She is pictured with Prime Minister Scott Morrison in January 2019

As a new Liberal senator for Western Australia, Linda Reynolds claimed $1,268 on the public purse in May 2015 so she could fly to Brisbane return from Canberra for an Australian Medical Association cocktail party event. She is pictured with Prime Minister Scott Morrison in January 2019

As a new Liberal senator for Western Australia, Linda Reynolds claimed $1,268 on the public purse in May 2015 so she could fly to Brisbane return from Canberra for an Australian Medical Association cocktail party event. She is pictured with Prime Minister Scott Morrison in January 2019

While their visit coincided with the town’s weekend races, Senator Reynolds’s spokeswoman said she was there to attend a NAIDOC week ball organised by the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee.

‘The Senator and her partner were officially invited to attend the NAIDOC ball,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

‘She also engaged in stakeholder community meetings and events.

‘This travel was parliamentary and electorate business within the guidelines.’

Being in Western Australia, Broome is considered to be part of Ms Reynolds’s electorate, as a senator for that state. 

The weekend package included $1,576 in return flights for her and another $1,576 for her husband. 

Federal MPs’ partners are entitled to nine business class flights or three family reunion trips a year.

In July 2015, Senator Reynolds charged taxpayers another $4,242 to travel 2,200km from her electorate office in Perth to Broome (Cable Beach pictured)

In July 2015, Senator Reynolds charged taxpayers another $4,242 to travel 2,200km from her electorate office in Perth to Broome (Cable Beach pictured)

In July 2015, Senator Reynolds charged taxpayers another $4,242 to travel 2,200km from her electorate office in Perth to Broome (Cable Beach pictured)

Taxpayers spent another $208 on car hire costs in Broome from July 3 to 5 and another $118.60 getting the senator to and from the Perth airport on those days.  

The trip was classified as electorate business, with Senator Reynolds also claiming $764 in travel allowance to cover accommodation and food.

Senator Reynolds weekend trips to Brisbane and Broome added up to $5,510. 

The former Australian Army Reserves brigadier became Defence Minister in May last year after Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Coalition government won a third consecutive term in power.

Source: dailymail UK

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