This Politician Charged Taxpayers To Fly Family To Her "50th" Birthday Party

    It was her 55th birthday.

    David Mariuz / AAPIMAGE

    Liberal senator Lucy Gichuhi has blamed an "administrative error" on charging taxpayers thousands of dollars to fly family from Darwin to Adelaide for her "50th birthday (Plus GST)" party.

    As first reported by The Sunday Telegraph, Gichuhi charged taxpayers $2,139 for two return flights to Adelaide from Darwin under family travel costs in October last year.

    IPEA

    Gichuhi's "50th (Plus GST) Birthday Party" was held at Rydges in Adelaide, according to a post on her Facebook page, and was for family and friends. Former senator Bob Day appeared in the photos — Gichuhi replaced Day in the Senate after he was found ineligible to be elected.

    Facebook

    In response to the report, Gichuhi – who is 55 – tweeted on Sunday that the claim was an "administrative error" and would be repaid.

    Regarding the media reports about my travel expenses, this was an administrative error involving misunderstanding of travel rules. I’ve raised an invoice from the department to pay the costs of $2139 in full.

    The Daily Telegraph reported on Monday that Gichuhi had also claimed thousands in travel as "electorate business" for attending events in Sydney, New South Wales, despite being a senator for South Australia. Gichuhi has reportedly defended these claims, stating that they are within the guidelines.

    Gichuhi, who is known for sparking a meme in response to a question, joined the Liberal Party earlier this year, after sitting as an independent. When she joined the party, the backbencher was given a committee to chair, and a second committee where she is the deputy chair.

    As a result Gichuhi's pay is more than that of a regular backbencher. In addition to the base salary of $203,000, Gichuhi earns another $40,000 per year for chairing a committee.

    That base salary apparently wasn't enough for the senator. In footage from an interview on Kenyan TV earlier this year that was shared widely on Twitter over the weekend, Gichuhi said $200,000 per year wasn't a lot of money.

    "In a whole year! That's not a lot of money," Gichuhi said in the video.

    #auspol @acoss this is the most disgusting thing I have ever heard come from the mouth of a Liberal Senator. Sen Lucy Gichuhi live kenyan TV saying 200k is not enough money , wage https://t.co/3HLlkQTjPZ

    In a copy of her speech for her 55th birthday bash, Gichuhi said one of the biggest lessons she had learnt was to be humble.

    "Fifty plus GST is a very important birthday for me and I have now also taught you to deduct 10% off your own age — if you want to!"

    Josh Taylor is a Senior Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Josh Taylor at josh.taylor@buzzfeed.com.

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