Business, Credit card, Expense, India, San Francisco -

State ambassadors' long list of petty expenses exposed

Michael Kapel
Michael Kapel
Commissioner for the Americas Michael Kapel made a range of minuscule claims, including a bottle of water. Source: HeraldSun

Credit card reimbursements for Victorian representatives in San Francisco, Bangalore and London, released under Freedom of Information, show hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses.

But no cost appears too small for some commissioners or agent-generals to claim, despite living on six-figure salaries with free accommodation, private school tuition and cars.

Expenses for the office of Mr Kapel, who moved to San Francisco as Commissioner for the Americas after being embroiled in the Simon Overland affair, show taxpayers picked up the bill for a range of ­minuscule costs, including a $3.38 bottle of water and 98c postage charge.

The Bangalore office, where Geoffrey Conaghan was Commissioner to India, sought reimbursement for parking fees worth $1.77, a tip in Chennai for $13.26 and "postage and communications" fee costing 10c.

The office also splashed out $237 on iPad accessories.

In Victoria's London office, where Sally Capp was agent general for most of the year, senior diplomats spent more than $85,000 on travel in 12 months, including flights, transport and meals in Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

The office also spent more than $1500 on plant maintenance and tens of thousands on event sponsorship, including a Melbourne mining club dinner and the Melbourne Cup.

The diplomats also claimed meals and luxury accommodation at five-star hotels including the Marriott in New York and Taj Palace in Mumbai.

The Victorian Government Business Office network comprises 16 international offices and is set to reopen a base in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Labor's scrutiny of government spokesman Martin Pakula said the offices are important to Victoria's trade and investment, but it was "hard to see how Victoria benefits from commissioners claiming their dollar tips back".

A spokesman for Trade Minister Louise Asher, Peter Poggioli, said the foreign offices play a pivotal role in raising Victoria's profile.

 

WHAT YOU PAID FORSan Francisco

* Tips for "business travel and removal of personal effects": $175.49 (February 2012)

* Postage charge for "change of address/mail": 98c; water at LAX airport: $3.38 (April 2012)

* Accommodation at the Marriott Hotel, NYC: $1315.73 (April 2012)

* Corporate membership to networking site LinkedIn: $899.40 (August 2012)

* Parking: $2 (March 2013)

 

Bangalore

* Reimbursement towards lunch expenses: $6.31 (June 2012)

* Purchase of accessories for iPads: $237.05 (August 2012)

* Mobile phone expense: $0.10 (December 2012)

* Maintenance of conference door and repair of vacuum cleaner: $66.89 (March 2013)

* Parking fees: $1.77 (April 2012)

 

London

* Sponsorship of Melbourne mining club dinner: $7656 (May 2012)

* Plant maintenance: $447.64 (May 2012)

* Art loan fees: $2903 (June 2012)

* Melbourne Cup sponsorship: $8903.23 (September 2012)

* Opera Australia event: $2430 (November 2012)

* Car cleaning: $40.32 (January 2013) 

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