Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones Bills Taxpayers $43k For Hire Car Rides To Parliament

By James Willis: Labor ministers stand accused of being ‘spending addicts’ in a cost-of-living crisis after it was revealed Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones racked up a $43k hire car bill in just nine months, while also charging taxpayers for a private vehicle. Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones has refused to explain why he appears to have double-dipped on MP entitlements, by using an expensive COMCAR while also having access to a personal vehicle.

Mr. Jones charges taxpayers for a private-plated vehicle, including a fuel allowance. However, on at least three occasions he used Government-issued hire cars for the 2.5-hour journey between his Shellharbour electorate to Parliament House.

The three trips were part of a $43,000 COMCAR bill Mr. Jones racked up between April and December 2022 - which included Labor’s first 7 months in Government. In the same year - he also claimed more than $11,000 for a personal vehicle.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information reveal a correlation between 2022 Lower House-sitting dates and Mr. Jones’ most expensive COMCAR bookings. That includes a $1097 trip from his house at Mount Warrigal to Canberra on Sunday September 4 — a day before parliament resumed.

COMCARS are available for MPs via a phone APP at the cost of $2.10 per minute, plus additional charges depending on tolls, location and wait time.

However, according to the Department of Finance, the service is strictly for MPs “undertaking parliamentary business … when their private plated vehicle could not reasonably be used.”

Taxpayers also covered the cost of a $905 journey from Mr. Jones’ home to Canberra at 4.30am on Friday, September 23.

A day later, he booked a Saturday morning chauffeur to return him to Mount Warrigal at a cost of $922.

A spokesman for Mr. Jones refused to explain why he did not use his taxpayer-funded private vehicle for the individual trips, simply saying: “Parliamentarians are able to access travel, including flights and COMCAR for their parliamentary business, in accordance with the relevant rules and guidelines”.

Mr. Jones’ excessive COMCAR use has drawn a scathing response from fellow MPs.

“It really disgusts me that this sort of spending is going on. But in some ways, it doesn’t surprise me. Most of these politicians have never run a business, employed staff” One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson said.

“This is unreasonable. There is no reason he can’t drive himself like other MPs.

“Stephen Jones needs to be asked, if he had to pay for the COMCAR himself, would he take the trip?”

However, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek leapt to her colleague’s defense.

“Stephen lives in a regional area. He’s got a lot of travel to do.” Ms. Plibersek said on Sunrise on Monday.