• Tony Abbott boards the ranger boat for a trip to the mouth of the Jardine River with Apudthama Land and Sea Rangers during his visit to the Torres Strait in August 2015. (AAP)Source: AAP
Taxpayers forked out more than $200,000 for Tony Abbott's trip to the Torres Strait, including a $37,000 payout to a hotel for cancelled bookings.
By
AAP

Source:
AAP
23 Oct 2015 - 4:07 PM  UPDATED 23 Oct 2015 - 4:07 PM

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet confirmed the five-day tour of the region cost $179,077, with $24,327 alone spent on a visit to the resting place of land rights campaigner Eddie Mabo.

Thursday Island's Jardine Motel was compensated when the department cancelled bookings for 33 rooms at the last minute.

Senior departmental official Caroline Edwards confirmed to a Senate estimates hearing on Friday that the department had overestimated the number of staff travelling to the island. She admitted the hotel was given notice "very late".

'A senior officer from the department was appointed to come to a "reasonable accommodation" with angry hotel owner Steve Mills'

A senior officer from the department was appointed to come to a "reasonable accommodation" with angry hotel owner Steve Mills.

The department weighed up the disadvantage experienced by the hotel with the "prudent" use of public funds in determining the compensation figure.

"That was a lot less than the accommodation would have cost," Ms Edwards said, adding that it was reasonable in the circumstances.

However, the department maintains no formal bookings were made throughout the reservation process.

"But an expectation had arisen," Ms Edwards said.

Ms Edwards said the feedback from the trip - which was part of Mr Abbott's commitment to spend one week each year in a remote community - had been positive.

'Locals were "very excited"'

Locals were "very excited" to have around eight ministers and the prime minister in the region to attend events and meetings.

In addition, several issues were raised that were now "front and centre" for policy development and the trip to Mer Island to visit Mabo's grave was a "huge" event.

"It was an extremely important ceremonial event in the history of the nation," Ms Edwards told the hearing.

 


 

Tony Abbott’s latest Indigenous trip eerily similar to 2014 Arnhem Land experience

At the time of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott's visit to the Torres Strait Islands and Cape York, NITV's political correspondent, Myles Morgan had this analysis:

During his week in the Torres Strait Islands and Cape York, Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke about Constitutional change, attended a military ceremony, visited numerous schools and spoke about potential Australian military air strikes in Syria.

In September 2014 in north-east Arnhem Land, Tony Abbott spoke about an imminent announcement on Constitutional change, attended a military ceremony, went to a few schools and fielded questions about Australian air strikes in Iraq.

The location was new, but the visits were composed of the same topics and the same staged events. It’s fair to ask, is there now a cookie-cutter model for visiting black communities?

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Tony Abbott’s latest Indigenous trip eerily similar to 2014 Arnhem Land experience
The Prime Minister has been visiting far north Queensland to talk about Constitutional change, attend a military ceremony and take questions about air strikes in Syria, a remarkably similar agenda to his Arnhem Land trip in 2014. Myles Morgan asks what is happening behind the surface of these near identical Indigenous journeys.