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Joe Hockey denies accusation, Helloworld's chief executive, Andrew Burnes



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After to update

February 22, 2019 21:53:55

Australian Ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, has denied charges for dealing with Helloworld, a travel company as a "total nonsense".

Key points:

  • Mr Hockey reported that the circumstances he met with Helloworld's executive "camouflaged"
  • He is dealing with the company in question after quoting the chief executive of the company saying "Hello it's due to me" in an email
  • Hockey is a major shareholder in the business, but said he had stated this before the meeting

Mr Hockey met former executive of Helloworld, Russell Carstensen and other embassy staff in Washington, DC in 2017.

Mr Carstensen told Parliament to estimate a hearing on Thursday that the chief executive of Andrew Burnes's company had arranged the meeting, saying "I have a hockey for me".

"The claim that someone in Mr Burnes is a complete disorders," said Mr Hockey in a statement.

"The meeting was a general discussion about the current arrangements for the provision of travel services in the United States and Australia.

"There were no commercial opportunities with the embassy offered or available."

Hockey is a major shareholder at Helloworld and is a close friend of Mr Burnes, who is also the federal treasurer of the Liberal Party.

Mr Hockey said that both interests had been declared before the meeting, and the circumstances in which he said he had "been camouflaged".

"I decided to join the meeting as Helloworld / QBT was the current travel supplier to DFAT, and still, [the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade], "he said.

"It's usually normal for ambassadors to meet official service suppliers to our department".

Mr Hockey said he had excused himself of all discussions and decisions regarding the procurement of travel services.

Helloworld in the lights

Mr Burnes released a statement on Thursday refusing to arrange the meeting between Mr Hockey and Mr Carstensen.

"Furthermore, Mr Hockey and I did not discuss the meeting in Washington at any time after it happened," he said.

"DFAT workers were always present at that meeting and Mr Carstensen's meeting was revealed to DOFA [the Department of Finance and Administration] at the time, as appropriate and necessary under the contractual arrangements with DOFA.

"I do not even say telling Mr Carstensen that he or she is owed to Mr Hockey or any words to that end.

"Joe Hockey and I have been close friends for 20 years and would be ridiculous to suggest that I would say or suggest that he owes me."

Questions raised about Mr Hockey's links to Helloworld after it was revealed that the company had not processed payment from the Finance Minister Mathias Cormann for family trips to Singapore in 2018.

The company blamed an "administrative error" for not processing the $ 2,700 payment on Senedd Cormann's credit card, which he has settled since.

Topics:

government-and-politics,

Australia

After first posting

February 22, 2019 20:43:20

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