When a politician hugs a koala, the animals aren't the only ones feeling the squeeze.
The cuddly critters are costing Australian taxpayers big bucks, to the tune of $400,000, according to statistics revealed Thursday by the country’s Labor party.
“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, referring to the former Australian prime minister.
The price tag was highlighted in the party’s “Waste-pedia” booklet and Waste Watch website, launched this week, The Guardian reports.
Among the koala-related expenses -- $133,000 to fly four koalas to the Singapore zoo, a $62,500-a-day tour of Kangaroo Island with foreign diplomats and $150,000 for a diplomatic trip to Western Australia where politicians hugged wombats instead, the booklet says.
“Government spending is not in itself bad, but it must be remembered at all times its taxpayers’ money, not politicians’ money being spent,” Conroy said, according to The Guardian.