Labor MP and factional powerbroker David Feeney’s property portfolio is even more extensive that first thought, with his wife, lawyer Liberty Sanger, owning a Canberra apartment Feeney stays in during parliamentary sitting weeks.
The unit means Feeney and his wife own four properties, including three in Melbourne.
Sanger’s family trust owns the unit, and while the trust is declared on the member’s register of pecuniary interests, the unit itself is not, The Australian reports.
The revelation will further damage Feeney as he fights to hold off a strong challenge for his inner Melbourne seat of Batman by the Greens.
On Tuesday, it emerged that the MP had failed to declare a $2.3 million investment property he owns in his electorate.
He bought the four bedroom house in Northcote shortly after winning the seat in 2013, but had not added it to the parliamentary register in the last 30 months, despite a requirement that any property should be declared within 30 days. He said he was going to live in the house after renovating it, but currently has tenants in there.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten backed Feeney but said his failure to disclose the investment property to parliament was “unacceptable”. The ALP leader said he would not drop Feeney as assistant defence spokesman.
Fairfax Media reports that the tenants have subsequently put up a placard outside the house in support of Greens candidate, Alex Bhathal.
Feeney lives in a $2.9 million apartment in the adjacent Greens-held seat of Melbourne. He also has another investment property in Seddon, which he negatively gears. Both those houses have been declared.
While Feeney has done nothing wrong in using the Canberra unit, it creates a number of political problems for Labor, which has been campaigning against negative gearing and family trusts.
And like former treasurer Joe Hockey, the Labor may also face a backlash over claiming a $270 a night travel allowance to stay in the house, essentially using taxpayer funds to pay the mortgage. The Australian reports that more than $9000 in travel allowance was paid in 2015. Hockey’s Canberra residence was also owned by his wife.
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