A Greens MP is reconsidering his request for taxpayers to provide him with a gas-guzzling parliamentary car. Michael Organ, who was elected to Federal Parliament last month, originally wanted a $40,000 supercharged Holden Commodore S which drinks 12 litres per 100km.
But after questioning by reporters Mr Organ, the MP for the Wollongong-based seat of Cunningham, decided the sporty six-cylinder sedan might not be the best vehicle for someone elected on an environmental platform.
Federal parliamentarians can choose from the Commodore Executive, Acclaim, Berlina, standard S or the supercharged S version. In May, Special Minister of State Eric Abetz also approved the use of the new eco-friendly Toyota Prius. Senator Abetz said the Japanese-made Prius was fitted with a revolutionary new petrol/electric powerplant. "It has the performance of a standard sedan, but gets a remarkable 4.6 litres per 100km on city cycle," he said.
Mr Organ originally justified his choice of the supercharged Holden, saying he wanted a "safe and economical" car because of all the travelling he would have to do between Canberra and his home near Wollongong. Mr Organ, who has been temporarily issued with a Ford Falcon, said the term "supercharged" was "unfortunate" "I need a good safe car that's going to be efficient," he said. "I am already doing a lot of travelling and I just wanted a nice safe Australian car."
A few hours later, he said he had reconsidered and would ask for an LPG-powered sedan. "As you know, I have been a bit of a rev-head in the past," he said. "I am reconsidering. With all the pollution, we have to think about these things."
The Australian Democrats' Greg Barns said a Greens MP choosing the supercharged S model was "gross hypocrisy". "What it demonstrates is that the Greens tend to represent a rag-bag of views with no consistency," Mr Barns said.
Mr Organ won the formerly safe-Labor seat of Cunningham at a by-election forced by the sudden resignation of Stephen Martin. A combination of anti-ALP sentiment and environmental concerns led to the defeat of Labor candidate Sharon Bird.
(From the "Sunday Mail" of Dec. 29, 2002)