Australia’s Ambassador for US Joe Hockey’s $70,000 expenses bill for flowers, booze, childcare services and laundry

He famously declared that the “age of entitlement is over” during his stint as Treasurer, but in his new role as Australian Ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey has caused a stir after using taxpayers’ dollars to fund several boozy events and even pay for babysitters for his children.

According to figures obtained by the Herald Sun, the former treasurer claimed almost AU$70,000 in expenses between July and December last year to cover ‘entertainment’ costs, with the Australian public footing the bill for flowers, booze, childcare services and even Hockey’s laundry.

The News Corp publication reports that Hockey spent a whopping $3,340 on childminding in the six-month period, while he carried out official duties, and also splashed out thousands on a number of parties.

Hockey, 52, is said to have claimed $3,165 to pay for a party in honour of retiring diplomat Dennis Richardson, as well as splurging $2,535 on a reception for Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Hockey also used his representational funds to pay $4335 hosting dinner for 44 guests, $3072 for flowers and $2660 on alcohol.

However, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed to Starts at 60 the expenses are “in accordance with departmental policy”, stating that: “The expenditure and work-related activities outlined in Ambassador Hockey’s representation returns are in accordance with the Department’s Finance Management Manual and the Human Resources Manual.

“Ambassador Hockey’s visit to Australia in December 2017 was used as an opportunity to personally engage with state Premiers and senior business leaders ahead of the Prime Minister’s trade mission to the United States in February 2018. The result was the largest and most significant bipartisan political and business delegation ever to visit the United States.

“Ambassador Hockey used his representational funds in accordance with departmental policy to offset childcare costs when he and his spouse were required to support the work of the Embassy.”

Hockey quit parliament in September 2015 after he was booted from the role of Treasurer in favour of Scott Morrison. At the time Hockey said he was quitting parliament “for the sake of his young family” however it was later reported that he’d actually declined a junior role offered to him by Malcolm Turnbull.

In January 2016 he succeeded Kim Beazley as Australian Ambassador to the United States, earning him $360,000-a-year. Hockey moved his self-made millionaire banker wife, Melissa Babbage, and their three children into the ambassador’s heritage-listed 1940s mansion, known as ‘White Oaks’, where the family live rent-free.

In the two-years since he took on the role of US Ambassador, Hockey has been credited with helping to maintain close relations between Australia and US President Donald Trump, particularly surrounding the contentious issue of trade penalties.

Hockey took politics onto the fairway in April this year when he was photographed playing nine holes of golf with the 72-year-old US leader at Trump National in Virginia, along with Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney and Fox News TV host Bret Baier.