Tony Abbott's hand-picked human rights adviser ran up more than $77,000 in taxpayer-funded expenses in his first year on the job, spending almost $15,000 on taxis.
The government appointed Tim Wilson to the role of Human Rights Commissioner shortly after the 2013 election, drafting him from the Institute of Public Affairs, a right-wing think tank.
In the 12 months after he took up the position in February 2014, the former Liberal Party member charged taxpayers $77,763 for expenses. These were in addition to his $332,000 salary package and $40,000 accommodation allowance.
He spent $14,562 on cab fares, including almost $3000 for family reunion travel for his partner, according to a departmental response to a Labor question on notice.
Mr Wilson also claimed for an iPhone, an iPad, a laptop and a $1400 standing desk.
The so-called "Freedom Commissioner" has roamed far and wide in his job. He has spent about $11,000 on business class airfares abroad – although about $2000 of this was reimbursed by groups that hosted him – and $26,000 on domestic fares, including $10,800 for his partner.
The taxpayer also picked up a $17,800 bill for meals and other expenses while travelling.
"You'd rather I sit in my office all day?" was Mr Wilson's response when contacted.
The Australian Human Rights Commission declined to supply details of other commissioners' expenses to see if they were comparable to Mr Wilson's.
"The travel expenses of commissioners are proportionate to the work required to fulfil their statutory obligations," the commission said.
"Last year the Human Rights Commissioner completed two major national consultations which required travel to remote, rural and regional Australia as well as capital cities."
Mr Wilson's former employer, the IPA, has long advocated the commission be abolished.
Attorney-General George Brandis made no secret of the fact he selected Mr Wilson to shake up the status quo. At the time, Senator Brandis said the commission had been too narrowly focused on anti-discrimination and had not done enough to promote principles such as freedom of speech and freedom of association.
Shortly after Mr Wilson's appointment the government cut the commission's full-time Disability Discrimination Commissioner role and dropped Graeme Innes from the job.
The government has also had a fraught relationship with the commission's president, Gillian Triggs.
Mr Abbott and Senator Brandis declared they had lost faith in Professor Triggs because of perceived political bias over a report into children in immigration detention.
More recently, the government savaged Ms Triggs for comments linking asylum seeker boat turnbacks to Indonesia's failure to engage with Australia on issues like the death penalty. The government has repeatedly called on her to resign but she has refused.
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