Move over Kylie, Australia has a new celebrity – and our J-Bish has an entourage and rider to rival any touring superstar.
Senate Estimates has revealed that the cost of the Foreign Minister’s two-day tour of South Australia in March, which included a gig in Kangaroo Island, came in at close to $125,000 for chartered flights, on-ground transport, and food and beverages, all at the expense of the Australian taxpayer.
The rock star itinerary includes coach pick-ups from the Hilton hotel, chartered flights to the island, wine tasting and gourmet meals with entrees such as White King Crab salad with balsamic pearls and herb crème fraiche and deserts such as Textures of Lemon: burnt meringue, lemon sorbet, noisette sable, set cream, lemon sherbet and lemon textures.
Diplomats were wowed with the warm up act of Australian native animals; including a J-Bish duet with ‘Alfie the Koala’ (whose fee for performance formed part of a $440 charge for the koala, a joey, possum and handlers.)
But at the top of the list of diva demands is the size of the J-Bish entourage, which includes most of her Ministerial staff and two Liberal State MPs with no connection to Kangaroo Island or the diplomats accompanying the Minister on tour.
“The Foreign Minister puts on a good show, doesn’t she?” Labor’s Waste spokesperson, Pat Conroy, said.
“Initiatives to support diplomats getting a taste of Australia are a fine thing, but there are some serious questions that need to be asked about the support staff that went on this little jaunt.”
“Why does the Julie Bishop need seven of her Ministerial staff, including the receptionist, the office manager and two departmental liaison officers, to accompany her on a visit to Kangaroo Island when she attended the UN with only two staff?”
“And why are two Liberal State Opposition MPs being treated to this jaunt and living it up at a $225 a head lunch paid for by the Commonwealth tax-payer?”
“If Julie Bishop wanted to take her staff out for a work function she could have shouted them to a cook-your-own steak at the Kingo.”
“Anyone can see this a rort, and Julie Bishop has a lot to answer for when it comes to this trip.”