The Cost Of Recalling Our Parliament For Two Days Is Crazy

19/04/2016 3:46 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Fairfax Media

As you've probably heard, the government's ABCC bills have been voted down and we're headed to a July 2 double dissolution election.

What you might not realise, though, is that the announcement means our politicians get an early mark from the parliament; and just two days in Canberra for our political leaders have cost you, the taxpayer, almost $1.4 million.

PM Malcolm Turnbull set aside three extra sitting weeks for the Senate to consider and pass his ABCC bills, but it took less than a day for the building commission legislation to be rejected again by the upper house. As programs for the Senate and House of Representatives show, there is now very little on the legislative agenda -- so all 150 MPs and 76 Senators will head home from Canberra on Tuesday night or Wednesday.

Labor was on the attack over what Bill Shorten called a "farce" of a sitting week.

The opposition started calling it the "Seinfeld parliament" -- "the parliament about nothing". Labor MP Tim Watts even launched into an impromptu jazz-scat version of the sitcom's theme tune on the floor of the House.

But jokes aside, the anti-climactic and premature end to the extraordinary sitting session is an expensive episode.

A spokesman for Bill Shorten's office told The Huffington Post Australia that the 226 politicians recalled to Canberra each get a $271 per night travel allowance, while another 226 travel allowances at $263 each are given for their staff. Another $941 each is reserved for return flights to Canberra for those 452 people.

Travel allowances and flights for the short-lived sitting session, assuming they all arrived on Sunday and leave on Wednesday morning (three nights) would come out to around $787,400.

Adding on figures released to Labor by the Parliamentary Library, which estimates costs for recalling a day of Parliament in a non-sitting week at around $300,000 a day, that figure comes out to about $1.39 million. The cost could be even higher than that, with Fairfax Media reporting last month that it could cost up to $1 million per day to recall the parliament. We'll go forward with our relatively conservative figure.

The House sat for 12 hours on Monday and for just three hours on Tuesday, while the Senate sat for 13 hours on Monday and will also sit from midday to around 7pm on Tuesday -- a total of 35 hours between both houses. That comes out to a cost of $39,714 per hour of parliament sitting.

With $1.39 million, the average person could buy:

  • 1007 x 64gb iPhone 6s (at $1379 each)
  • 173,967 x Hawaiian pizzas from Domino's (at $7.99 each)
  • 1599 x return economy airfares to Los Angeles (at $869, through STA Travel)
  • 5167 x return economy airfares to Bali (at $269, STA Travel)
  • 2780 x top-of-the-line GoPro Hero Black 4 cameras (at $499.99 each)
  • 6318 x pairs of Adidas Ultra Boost running shoes (at $220 a pair)
  • 1,270,566 litres of fuel (at the Sydney average price of $1.094 per litre on Tuesday)
  • 8 x Tesla S 70D cars (at $159,805 each)
  • 397,142 x regular coffees (at $3.50 each)
  • 278,000 x schooners of beer (at $5 each)
  • 127,522 x burritos at Mad Mex (at $10.90 each)

With pizza boxes at 40mm deep, a pile of 173,967 pizzas would be 6958 metres high -- more than a kilometre higher than Mount Kilimanjaro.

That's a lot of pizza.

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