Receipts reveal Tony Abbott spent more than $7000 of taxpayer funds on alcohol

Krystal Johnson

Newly revealed receipts show former Prime Minister Tony Abbott spent more than $7000 of taxpayer cash on alcohol during his last two months as Prime Minister.

Last year, federal staffers blocked the release of Mr Abbott's wine list, claiming the former Prime Minister’s 'beverage preferences' were a matter of personal privacy.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott spent a grand total of $7,340 on wine over eight weeks last year. Photo: AAP

Yesterday, the Australian Information Commissioner agreed to expose the material under freedom of information laws after Labor Senator Penny Wong spent 13 months fighting for the release of the receipts.

The receipts reveal the former Prime Minister's office, led by chief of staff Peta Credlin, spent a total of $7340 over eight weeks from February to April last year.

The PMC also managed to spent more than $1800 at one bottle shop alone, while the cost of other bottles purchased totaled $1700 and $1100.

The receipts showed a preference for locally-sourced and leading Canberra wine label Clonakilla, with $35 bottles of Hilltops Shiraz and Riesling.

Oakridge chardonnay The Parish and Margaret River-based Devil's Lair were also purchased.

The exposure took five months longer than the statutory 30-day reply period for the war to come to an end after Mr Abbott's then department took six months to respond to Senator Wong's request.

Labor Senator Penny Wong spent 13 months fighting for the release of the receipts. Photo: AAP

"It looks like an exhibit out of Utopia," Senator Wong told a Senate hearing in October, in reference to the TV series satirising Australian politics and public service processes.

Acting Information Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim first ordered the release the receipts because it was unclear whether the wines were of Mr Abbott's personal taste.

Mr Abbott's purchases were a little more expensive than Malcolm Turnbull's wine list stocked at The Lodge, Fairfax reports.

Canberra had a preference for locally-sourced and leading wine label, Clonakilla, whose $35 a bottle Hilltops Shiraz and Riesling. Photo: AAP
Senator Wong's request.

"If it had been shown that the former prime minister had directed the purchases in accordance with his personal preferences, then I accept that the alcohol brands could be the personal information of the former prime minister," Commissioner Pilgrim said.

"However, in the present circumstances, I think any connection between the purchase decision and the personal preferences of the former prime minister, if there is a connection, is too remote."