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A Dad's Campaign To Shame Politicians Worked Better Than Anyone Expected

What started as a joke will give three girls a rare family holiday and a worthy charity a big fat donation.

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Stephen Callaghan started the campaign as a way to shame Australia's politicians who have been caught out using taxpayer funds pay for business class flights for family holidays. He decided that if it was good enough for MPs, it's good enough for him.

"They justify the cost by saying they are away from home for 20 weeks a year," he told BuzzFeed News at the weekend.

"Well, my wife works away from home 40 weeks a year. She stays in Yagoona Monday to Friday to go to her job in south west Sydney while I stay at home. Our three daughters miss her terribly … as do I. It is our 13th wedding anniversary tomorrow but she will be in Sydney and I will be up here on Central Coast. No "family reunion" entitlements for us."

Stephen admitted he didn't really expect the campaign to succeed, but a flood of donations spurred by publicity around the world has seen the campaign reach its $5000 target in just a few days.


"The reaction has been overwhelmingly supportive. Most people are donating with comments along the lines of they are disgusted by the politicians' behaviour and they want us to have a great holiday," Stephen says.

Some of the money will be put towards the family holiday after Stephen's daughters originally sold some toys, and Stephen gave up drinking beer to pay for the trip, and the rest will go to a worthy cause.

"This will really make our trip safer and more stress free. It will allow me to put some quality tyres on the car, give the kids a treat and have some emergency money in case we have a breakdown."

"We really were doing this trip on a wing and a prayer. We can also catch up on some bills that we have been stringing out to fund some purchases for the trip. But we will be giving half at the very least to Stewart House."

"Not a word from anyone," Stephen says. "No answers to my emails (not even an acknowledgment) no responses to my tweets. Only one donation from anyone politically connected and that was from Lake Macquaire (ALP) Councillor Chad Griffith. I am pretty disgusted by this. They have closed ranks to protect their very unacceptable perks. It smacks of arrogance and greed."

If there's enough cash left over, Stephen says he may even buy himself a little gift.

"Oh and I might buy a carton of beer. Lol, only kidding… of fucking course I'll buy a carton of beer."

Rob Stott is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Rob Stott at

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