Member for Parkes Mark Coulton claimed almost $260,000 in expenses in the first half of 2015.
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Figures released by the Department of Finance show federal MPs and senators claimed close to $48 million in the six months to June 30, with Mr Coulton clocking up a total of $259,679.64.
“These aren’t my personal expenses. These are the expenses for running two offices that are basically a connection between the Australian government and the people of a third of NSW,” Mr Coulton said.
He said travel costs accounted for the bulk of his expenses.
From January 1 to June 30 Mr Coulton claimed $66,118.13 in chartered flights, $26,183.67 in car costs, $23,793 in travelling allowance and $16,176.20 in domestic scheduled fares.
“The car costs again are very high - last year I spent the equivalent of twenty 40-hour weeks behind the wheel of a car,” Mr Coulton said, adding the chartered flights were crucial for getting around an electorate which covers a third of the state’s landmass.
“I don’t have many regular air services that go within the electorate. The drive across the electorate is about 11 hours so sometimes flying is the only option.”
“Office administrative costs” (things like stationary, printing and newspapers), accounted for $53,328.31 worth of expenses, while “office facilities” (including rent for his two electorate offices) was Mr Coulton’s biggest expense, totalling $63,938.11.
“These are the expenses of running an electorate office,” Mr Coulton said. “I don’t believe I’m extravagant in what I spend.”
Parkes is the largest federal electorate in the state, covering 256 643 square kilometres from the Queensland border in the north to Ilford, Tomingley and Lake Cargelligo in the south. Under the proposed redistribution to take effect at the next federal election, Parkes will be expanded to stretch west to the South Australian border, taking in Broken Hill.
In comparison, the smallest electorate in the state, Wentworth, represented by Prime Minister Malcolm Wentworth, covers 30 square kilometres.
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