23 May 2014

Whitehouse Staff Register Reveals No Role For Frances Abbott

By Chris Graham
Prime Minister Tony Abbott with daughter Frances, pictured with Whitehouse Institute owner Leanne Whitehouse, at the school's 25th anniversary celebrations in December last year.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott with daughter Frances, pictured with Whitehouse Institute owner Leanne Whitehouse, at the school's 25th anniversary celebrations in December last year.

First it was a secret scholarship. Now it appears to be a job with no role. Chris Graham brings you the latest on 'Whitehousegate'.

Growing community anger over the awarding of a secret scholarship worth $60,000 to Frances Abbott is unlikely to abate amid fresh revelations that the daughter of the Prime Minister appears to have been employed by the college in a job with no defined role.

Media have widely reported that Tony Abbott’s middle daughter was also rewarded with a job at the Whitehouse Institute of Design. The Prime Minister and Whitehouse have maintained that Frances’ seemingly favourable treatment by the college has been based on merit.

But documents obtained by New Matilda suggest that the circumstances leading up to Ms Abbott’s employment bear a striking resemblance to those around the awarding of her secret scholarship.

An internal staff register from Whitehouse Institute details 74 employees at the college, spread across two campuses – Sydney and Melbourne.

Every single member of staff has a role allocated to them in the register, with one exception — Frances Abbott.

Under the heading ‘Role’ her entry is blank – it simply lists her name, and a private email address.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister told New Matilda: "Questions regarding Frances’ employment should be directed to Whitehouse. I have no further comment."

Whitehouse Institute has been contacted repeatedly for comment, but has yet to respond to questions.

Classmates and Whitehouse staff have told New Matilda that Ms Abbott was a good student, and well liked by her colleagues.

The revelations come after New Matilda revealed on Wednesday that Frances paid just $7,546 for the $68,182 Bachelor of Design degree at Whitehouse Institute.

Internal documents from the school contradicted claims by the Prime Minister that he failed to declare the $60,636 benefit to his daughter because the scholarship was awarded on the basis of merit.

It emerged on Wednesday that rather than competing for a scholarship, Ms Abbott was pursued.

Chairman of the Whitehouse Institute, Les Taylor — a long-time friend of the Abbott family — urged her to attend the college after Whitehouse became aware she was thinking of enrolling with a competitor.

It also emerged that the General Manager’s Scholarship awarded to Ms Abbott has never been publicly advertised by the Whitehouse Institute, its existence was kept secret from senior staff, and it was awarded to Ms Abbott after just one meeting with the school’s owner, Leanne Whitehouse, in apparent contravention of Whitehouse’s publicly stated scholarship selection criteria.

Log in or register to post comments