Two members of defence minister David Johnston’s office have been shown the door, at the same time as the department launches an investigation into how private expense receipts were leaked to the media.
News Corp obtained documents revealing high-priced restaurant bills belonging to Johnston and his chief-of-staff Sean Costello.
While Australian troops have been dealt a below-inflation pay rise of just 1.5% over three years, the minister reportedly racked up thousands of taxpayer dollars wining and dining industry figures.
The documents revealed that in November the minister spent a total of $6384 on meals; spending up to $300-a-head and indulging in $200 bottles of wine and $20 cocktails.
Amid these revelations, two of the Defence department’s staff – media adviser Mark Dodd and an international policy adviser – were asked to leave and escorted from the building, without any opportunity to clear their desks.
The two men were also forced to return their security passes and any office-issued devices, such as mobile phones and tablets.
Fairfax Media is reporting that, despite the timing of the event, no accusations relating to the leaked documents were made against the two staff members.
These incidents follow a shocking week for the defence minister, who last week launched a tirade against the Australian Submarine Corporation after being pressed by Labor over his pre-election promise to build the subs locally, saying he wouldn’t trust the Adelaide-based shipbuilder “to build a canoe”.
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