Greens Senator defends whale watching trip with daughter
GREENS Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has defended spending more than $3500 in taxpayer funds on a whale watching trip for her and her daughter, saying she was just doing her job.
The South Australian Senator has admitted to charging the September trip to the Great Australian Bight - where she guzzled oysters, took selfies, and spotted dozens of whales - to the public.
After the overnight trip Ms Hanson-Young posted more than 20 pictures to Facebook showing mother and daughter enjoying themselves on the pristine coastline.
"Some of my favourite shots from my visit to the Great Australian Bight this week," she wrote.
"From the sand hills at Fowlers Bay, the 98 whales we saw (including lots of mums with their babies) and the occasional delicious fresh oyster ... This place is too precious to risk!"
Ms Hanson-Young claimed the premise of her trip was to talk to locals and players in the tourism industry which she said is under threat from "big oil".
Defending the bill in a radio interview on Monday morning, Ms Hanson-Young said she understood taxpayers were "always anxious" about what politicians are spending their taxes on, but said politicians needed to take trips to do their jobs.
"As a Senator for South Australia and someone who's very concerned about the idea of oil drilling ... I really wanted to make sure I heard from all the concerned constituents," she told Adelaide radio station 5AA.
"I was off there doing my job and it's a beautiful spot and I think it would be a shame if South Australians lost that, and indeed if other people around the world weren't able to see those whales."
Asked why she brought her daughter along for the trip, Ms Hanson-Young said she was juggling being a senator and a parent.
"My daughter that day was sick actually," she said.
"As you know I'm a single mum and I take my job really seriously, we had two days of meetings and consultations booked in and rather than sending my sick daughter for school or cancelling those trips, I did both.
The senator's interviewer didn't buy the excuse, saying "If your kid's sick, they stay home, I'm sorry, they don't go on the whale watching trip with mum".
"I"m sorry Sarah, it doesn't wash with me," he said.
Ms Hanson-Young defended her decision, and said South Australian parents would sympathise.
"I think parents across the state are also juggling work commitments ... lots of parents can't just take the day off work because their kid's sick. Lots of parents know that," she said.
"I was doing my job. It was all work-related. The fact I took my daughter along is the decision that I made in what was in the best interest of her and the best interests of me doing all my work commitments."
The bill for the trip included $317.52 for car hire, $1292.96 for a charter, and $120 in Comcar costs.
Ms Hanson-Young's office has confirmed with news.com.au the trip cost $3556.72.
The Senator said politicians "need to be accountable" for their spending of taxpayer funds.