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Koala Cuddling' Comes Back to Haunt Australian Government


"Government spending is not in itself bad, but it must be remembered at all times its taxpayers’ money, not politicians’ money being spent."

Koalas hug a specific type of tree that was found to have a cooler trunk than others they like to frequent. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

'Koala cuddling' is costing Australian taxpayers around $400,000, according to statistics revealed Thursday by the country's Labor party.

The Australian government's penchant for sending its cuddly marsupials to foreign diplomats for "cuddling" and highly-sought after photo opportunities has not gone unnoticed by the country's taxpayers. The $400,000 price tag was highlighted by the Labor party's "Waste-pedia" booklet that was launched Thursday on its Waste Watch website.

Every time a foreign politician seeks to cuddle a koala and pose for the unique photo-op, the cost of shipping koalas to perform the task takes a hefty toll on Australian citizens. Tony Abbott, Australia's 28th prime minister from 2013 - 2015, oversaw some of these koala-cuddling events.

"Tony Abbott is no stranger to this – he spent $24,000 so Vladimir Putin could hug a koala at the G20," Labor member Pat Conroy said, according to the Guardian.

Foreign minister Julie Bishop’s koala and other marsupial-related costs also included $133,000 to fly four koalas out to a Singapore zoo, a $62,500-a-day tour of Kangaroo Island with foreign diplomats, and $150,000 for a diplomatic visit to Western Australia where people "hugged wombats for a change," the Guardian reported.

These activities have not gone unnoticed by Australia's Labor party, which is now calling for an end to some of these excessive expenditures.

"International diplomacy has a role and soft power is very important, but you’ve to get the balance right. Sometimes this government goes over the top because they don’t care about the money,” Conroy said, according to the Guardian. "Government spending is not in itself bad, but it must be remembered at all times its taxpayers’ money, not politicians’ money being spent."

The Waste Watch website highlighted other government expenditures that the Labor party deemed to be excessive, including Bronwyn Bishop’s $5,200 bill for a helicopter flight to attend a Liberal party fundraising event and the attorney general's $16,000 spent on bookshelves and $6,000 spent on a water taxi ride through Venice, the Guardian noted.

"Some are examples of large expenditure, some small. But through it all it’s obvious these Liberals are more concerned about living the high life than they are [about] tightening their own belts," Conroy said.

(H/T: Fox News)

Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter

Front-page image via Shutterstock

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