We are all familiar with images of TA participating in ironman events, triathlons and road cycle rides. Could these events be considered official duties?
Port Macquarie Ironman 70.3 event
On 6 November 2011 TA participated in the 70.3 Ironman Age Group Championships in Port Macquarie.
“More than 800 amateur triathletes, including Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, will be in Port Macquarie next week for the 70.3 Ironman Age Group Championships.” (1) (2) (3)
TA’s 2011 Parliamentary Entitlement Report shows that on 5 November he claimed $349 in travel allowance while staying at Port Macquarie on official business, and that he claimed $941.10 for flights from Brisbane to Sydney to Port Macquarie on 5 November and Port Macquarie to Sydney on 6 November.
Lorne Pier to Pub swim
On 7 January 2012 TA participated in the Pier to Pub swim in Lorne, VIC. TA tweeted: “Relieved to have finished my first Pier to Pub swim in Lorne. Congratulations to Ted Baillieu who beat me by 10 minutes!” (4) (5)
TA’s 2012 Parliamentary Entitlement Report shows that on 6 January he claimed $349 in travel allowance while staying at Lorne, and that he claimed $1,095.24 for flights from Sydney to Melbourne and return on the 6th and 7th of January.
Hervey Bay Surf Lifesaving Pier to Pub swim
On 21 April TA participated in the Hervey Bay Surf Lifesaving Pier to Pub swim.
“PERFECT sunny weather greeted Tony Abbott and his fellow competitors, who plunged into the water on Saturday morning for the 14th annual Hervey Bay Surf Lifesaving Club Pier to Pub ocean swim.” (6) (7)
TA’s 2012 Parliamentary Entitlement Report shows that on 20 April he claimed $349 in travel allowance while staying at Hervey Bay, and that he claimed $2,023.81 for flights from Brisbane to Hervey Bay on 20 April and from Hervey Bay to Brisbane and onwards on 21st.
Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge
On August 5 2012 TA participated in the Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge. “Almost 80 protestors joined together at Bellingen's Lavender Bridge to try and catch the eye of Federal opposition leader Tony Abbott as he rode past as part of the NAB Cycle Challenge.” (8) (9)
TA’s 2012 Parliamentary Entitlement Report shows that on 4 August he claimed $349 in travel allowance while staying at Coffs Harbour, and that he claimed $683.24 for flights from Sydney to Coffs Harbour and return on the 4th and 5th of August.
Wagga Wagga Lake to Lagoon fun run
On 8 September 2012 TA participated in the Wagga ‘Lake to Lagoon’ fun run. One other participant blogged (not referenced to protect anonymity) “Before too long it's time for the dorky warm-up stuff and I find myself right behind the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott. Can't say I respect his politics, but I respect a man who can run. Right up until the gun goes off and he sets off at a snail's pace, forcing me to dodge and weave like a maniac in order to get in front. What a loser!” (10) (11)
TA’s 2012 Parliamentary Entitlement Report shows that on 8 September he claimed $354 in travel allowance while staying at Wagga Wagga and $160 for flight from Sydney to Wagga Wagga on 8 September.
Summary: These are 5 examples where TA claimed travel allowance and travel costs in respect of overnight stays the night before participating in sporting events. Were these overnight stays primarily due to official duties?