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Down Under Just the Place For A Junket?

  • February 9th, 2009
  • Posted by 7thmin

ep-alternativenewsorg.jpgA spat has broken out in the European Parliament over free-loading; not unusual there, but this time it’s about alleged junkets to Australia.


An Independent MEP, Hans-Peter Martin, has criticised a trip by nine of his colleagues due to start on 20.2.09, who said more details should be issued about work the group would be doing.

“What possible interest is there in sending a parliamentary delegation half way around the world?” he asked.

He thought it was even environmentally unsustainable to send them so far in an aeroplane.

hans-peter-martin.jpgDr Martin, a former Social Democrat and journalist with the left-of-centre Spiegel, is a sleuth, from Austria the land of Inspector Rex; having made a name for himself as an investigative author.

In the European Parliament since 1999, he has dug out information on fellow members falsely claiming lucrative attendance allowances, for only nominal appearances in the hemisphere – the parliamentary chamber.


He has drawn the ire of Giles Chichester, a British Tory MEP and member of successive delegations to Australia; biennial events that are reciprocated by groups of Australian politicians traveling the other way.

chichester-resize1.jpgMr Chichester has pointed out that investigator Martin was one of a forty-member delegation that went to China late last year.

He has defended the trip this year, to Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney, as set to do good work in maintaining contact among parliamentarians on both sides; especially as it has a brief to discuss the leading issues of financial crisis and climate change.

“There is a new government in Australia so this is a particularly good time to get the shape and direction of the new administration”, he said.

Mr Chichester is comfortable with Australian ties to the European Union that might run through London.

He’s known to invoke a definite sense of Anglo-Australian fellow-feeling when speaking on Europe’s behalf with Australian audiences, and to speak warmly of Aussie hospitality, (see EUAustralia, “Shifting EU-Australian Interests says MEP”, 27.6.07).

The clash with Hans-Peter Martin over a perks issue would have touched a sore point:

Last June The Times reported (6.6.08) Chichester had been pulled out of his job as Tory leader in the European Parliament, by David Cameron the party leader at Westminster, in connection with an expenses scandal.

It said Mr Cameron “welcomed publicly” his decision to resign as head of delegation, after admitting to a breach of European Parliament rules, by channelling 445000 pounds (A$983500;, 9.2.09) in allowances through a family company.


Wikipedia; Hans-Peter Martin., (9.2.09).

Times Online, “David Cameron forces resignation of Giles Chichester after expenses scandal”, 6.6.08., (9.2.09).

EU Politics News – the, “MEP defends EU parliament trip to Australia”, undated., (9.2.09).


Hans-Peter Martin,; European Parliament,