Senator Bridget McKenzie bought property on taxpayer trip

 BACK TO CANBERRA: Barnaby Joyce, Peter Dutton and Bridget McKenzie on the first day of the new Parliamentary sitting period on Tuesday. Picture: ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN.
BACK TO CANBERRA: Barnaby Joyce, Peter Dutton and Bridget McKenzie on the first day of the new Parliamentary sitting period on Tuesday. Picture: ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN.

Senator Bridget McKenzie has refused to comment on whether she should be treated the same way as dumped minister Sussan Ley, after purchasing a unit in Melbourne while on Parliamentary business.

A week after staff moved into her new office in Wodonga, Senator McKenzie has become the target of website The Daily Mail for her purchase back in 2014 and her controversial use of taxpayer-funded travel expenses.

Senator McKenzie’s office has confirmed reports she purchased her unit in Elwood, in South East Melbourne, on August 14, 2014.

Department of Finance records show she took part in a Parliamentary hearing in Melbourne on the same day.

Senator McKenzie claimed $143 for the use of a Comcar and driver, and $374 in travel allowance when in Melbourne on August 13, then $491.54 to fly from Melbourne to Canberra after the hearing on August 14.

“The Joint Select Committee on the Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Peoples held a public hearing in Shepparton on Wednesday 13 August 2014 and in Melbourne on Thursday 14 August 2014,” her spokesman said in a statement late on Tuesday.

“As a voting member of the joint committee, the Senator participated in both hearings.

“Following conclusion of the hearing on Thursday, the property agent brought the relevant documents to the Senator for signing.”

The circumstances appear similar to those which forced Ms Ley to resign as health minister in 2017.

The Farrer MP had also claimed travel expenses for work on the Gold Coast, where she purchased an investment property.

She has since voluntarily repaid the full cost of the Comcar journey, as well as the travel allowance she claimed for that night, with a 25 per cent penalty on top.

Senator McKenzie’s Elwood property was declared on her Registry of Senators’ Interests forms updated on November 19, 2014.

The controversy around the senator comes a week after The Daily Mail reported she had spent $19,942 to travel from Rockhampton to Melbourne for an ice hockey match in May 2018.

A response from her office said the senator needed to travel from commitments at Beef Week to an urgent meeting with the Australian Sport Commission Board.