Australia

Australian MP uses official chauffeur to shuttle dogs

Australian politician Steve Herbert, who is caught in a row over his dogs (27 Oct 2016) Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Steve Herbert said the pressure of his ministerial portfolio led to him making a mistake

An Australian politician has apologised for using his taxpayer-funded chauffeur to transport his dogs 120km (80 miles) to his country house.

Steve Herbert, corrections minister for Victoria, ferried pooches Patch and Ted from his home in Melbourne, the Herald Sun reported.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he was disappointed with Mr Herbert but no action would be taken against him.

Mr Herbert has promised to pay back the cost of the petrol.

'Really tough job'

Mr Herbert admitted on Wednesday night the trips to Trentham, in central Victoria, were not in line with community expectations.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Mr Herbert's dogs, Patch and Ted

"Being a minister in a senior portfolio, it's a tough job, it's a really tough job and sometimes you make mistakes, and this was one of them," he said on Thursday.

He added the responsibilities of his ministerial portfolio had "played havoc with my domestic arrangements".

Mr Andrews said although "the wrong thing had been done", he was satisfied Mr Herbert had learned his lesson.

But opposition leader Matthew Guy said Mr Herbert should lose his job.

"This minister should go. This minister has been caught rorting the system," he told reporters on Thursday.

String of controversies

The incident comes a year after Bronwyn Bishop resigned as speaker of parliament over an expenses scandal.

Ms Bishop had used A$5,000 (US$3,806; £2,300) in public funds to charter a helicopter for a 65km journey from Melbourne to Geelong to attend a political fundraiser. She also claimed expenses for attending colleagues' weddings.

Her resignation, after weeks of pressure, forced a review of the federal parliamentary expenses system.

Image copyright @anguslivingston
Image caption One journalist tweeted a possible solution to the stresses of dog ownership

Last month, federal Labor MP Sam Dastyari was forced to relinquish his frontbench duties after allowing Chinese donors to make payments on his behalf.

Also in September, federal Liberal MP Steve Irons repaid $2,000 in taxpayer money he had claimed to attend his own wedding.

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