Foreign Minister Bob Carr
Foreign Minister Bob Carr

Bob Carr spends $721,576 on foreign travel in six months

AUSTRALIAN Foreign Minister Bob Carr spent almost $1 million on overseas travel in just 10 months last year.

Senator Carr visited 17 countries in the second half of last year, some more than once, racking up a bill of more than $550,000, the latest report on parliamentary entitlements shows.

His total overseas travel expenses for the final six months came to more than $721,000, but almost $170,000 of that was incurred in the January-June reporting period.

It came after the former New South Wales premier spent more than $245,000 visiting 17 countries during his first four months in the plum role, brining his total for the 10 months to $967,000, or almost $100,000 per month.

He was sworn-in as foreign minister in March last year when Kevin Rudd resigned following his first failed leadership challenge.

To put Senator Carr's overseas travel bill in perspective, Mr Rudd racked up more than $931,000 in 2011, his last full year in the prestigious job.

After being appointed foreign minister in September 2010, Mr Rudd left taxpayers with a bill of more than $426,000 in just three-and-a-half months after an 18-country blitz which began the day after he was sworn-in.

In Stephen Smith's final full year in the job (2009) his overseas travel expenses came in at $730,000.

The latest parliamentary entitlements report revealed Australia's 226 federal politicians cost taxpayers $54.5 million between July and December and more than $101 million for entire year.

Overall the nation's politicians received more than $18 million in travel entitlements in the final six months of the year - including accommodation expenses, overseas and domestic airfares, car hire and car costs - and almost $35 million for the year.

The combined phone bill for all politicians in 2012 was $3.2 million, and $1.48 million between July and December.

It appears Mr Rudd, who last week returned to the prime ministership, spent plenty of time on the phone in the second half of the year.

Despite sitting on the backbench Mr Rudd's bill for the July-December period came in at more than $29,500 - a jump of more than $20,000 on the first six months of the year.

But it was an amount dwarfed by Western Australian Liberal MP Barry Haase, whose bill for the second half of the year exceeded that of any other MP at more than $42,000.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott had the second biggest phone bill at more than $33,500, and the biggest of anyone in the Parliament for the year at more than $66,000.

It comes among seething anger in Queensland amid revelations MPs are entitled to a $57,000 pay rise.

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