Taxpayers’ $100K bill to keep ‘bullied’ MP quiet
TAXPAYERS will foot the bill for unhappy Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis to see out much of her term with a sought-after foreign appointment.
Ms Sudmalis will spend three months in New York as an observer at the United Nations, a role for which she has few qualifications.
This week, she complained of bullying from within the Liberal Party during a tense preselection battle for her marginal seat of Gilmore, leading to her decision not to recontest the next election.
The posting to New York will cost at least $100,000, according to one estimate.
Labor was quick to interpret the sudden appointment as a tactical move to placate Ms Sudmalis and mute her complaints.
"I think they have offered her this trip to get her out of the country," Labor's Amanda Rishworth said.
"Surely the best ever Naughty Corner," her colleague Graham Perrett tweeted.
The regular posting goes to two MPs, one from the government and one from the Opposition.
The Labor observer this time will be veteran Labor frontbencher Jenny Macklin, who has also announced she will not be contesting the next election.
The appointment of Ms Sudmalis could raise questions about the value of the postings and a perception they are merely used as rewards or a "lap of honour" or to remove a problem MP.
Some sent to New York do not file an official account about their work while there or Australia's activities at the UN.
Former Liberal senator Cory Bernardi was given one "secondment" to the United Nations, and soon after his return he quit the party and then formed his own.
Ms Sudmalis might detect a certain irony in her visit to New York.
She told Parliament that NSW Liberal Gareth Ward was the source of intimidation and threats. Mr Ward has firmly denied the charge.
Just over a year ago, Mr Ward was in New York when he was the victim of an aggressive scam after allegedly ordering a "special massage" in his hotel room.
Two men turned up and threatened to expose him on social media unless he paid them money.