• Former prime minister Tony Abbott during Question Time this week at Parliament House in Canberra. (AAP)Source: AAP
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been accused of giving the former leader extra staff “to buy some extra breathing room”.
NITV Staff Writer

25 Oct 2018 - 4:29 PM  UPDATED 25 Oct 2018 - 4:29 PM

As part of their new special envoy roles, former conservative leaders Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce have been given two extra staffers each at a cost to taxpayers of more than $450,000.

After the Liberal Party leadership spill in August, Mr Abbott accepted a new role as special envoy on Indigenous affairs and Mr Joyce became special envoy for drought.

The pair already had an additional employee each for holding office as prime minister and deputy prime minister lifting their staff numbers to three more than the average backbencher.

Labor Party frontbencher Don Farrell said the PM was using “staffing sweeteners to buy some breathing room from the outspoken coalition cast-offs”.

“Those extra staffing allocations are being provided to them in the roles he created for them as special envoys, and are additional to extra staff both already had as former prime minister and former deputy,” he said.

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Mr Farrell also said the government has not provided information about how many advisors were being paid above the established salary brackets.

“[Mr Morrison] is also continuing the Liberal tradition of hiding secret sweetheart deals used to top-up advisers’ pay packets with millions of extra dollars of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

“Liberal staff in government offices are paid above the rates relevant to their positions without any justification from the Government.”

However, a spokesman for the prime minister told The Daily Telgraph that the special envoys need staff to support their additional workload.

“Labor should be embarrassed they’re attacking staff rather than using Parliament to ask about issues that affect everyday Australians,” he said.

Mr Abbott and Mr Joyce are not the only former leaders who receive special entitlements.

Malcolm Turnbull has two staff at a cost to taxpayers more than $200,000 per year, an office, a chauffeured vehicle available at any time and free international travel when going overseas as a “former prime minister”.

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