Australian - and Canadian - royal tours to cost millions

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The Queen will be visiting Australia in October — but don't expect the tour to be cheap. Meanwhile, Canadians are up in arms about paying for the Canadian leg of William and Kate's honeymoon. David Donovan reports.
The Queen's tour blew the budget when last in Australia

When the Queen last visited, for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, the Australian taxpayer paid $1.8M for the brief tour. It was $1.4M over budget.

The figures were revealed under the Senate Estimates procedures.

Prime Minister and Cabinet Department Assistant Secretary, Frank Leverett, told the Committee that royal visits are always lavish affairs. It appears this one was particularly so, being $1.4M over the departmental budget. When the head of state visits, we obviously spare no expense.

“Royal visits are always a high expenditure item,” said Mr Leverett in response to a question from the Senate Committee.

“$1.4M was the shortfall in the program and that was the shortfall of the entire administrative funding for the Department,” he said.

Now, with the expensive flood and cyclone clean-up and repairs to infrastructure required for Queensland and elsewhere forcing the Government to impose a new taxpayer levy, we can only hope the Queen and her entourage will keep their visit brief and try to keep their expenses within reasonable limits.

Canadian republicans worry about paying for William and Kate's honeymoon

In Canada, republicans are up-in-arms to hear that newlyweds Prince William and Kate Middleton will visit Canada later this summer in an all-expenses-paid-for honeymoon funded solely by the Canadian taxpayer.

The main Canadian republican group, Citizens for a Canadian Republic (CCR), has questioned why Canadian taxpayers should be required to pay for visits by the Queen's family who have no Constitutional role in Canada.

"As outrageously expensive as it is, it's one thing to pay for the Queen to come to Canada, but to also pay for her children and grandchildren to visit makes no sense," said Tom Freda, national director of Citizens for a Canadian Republic.
David and Victoria Beckham: celebrities who pay their own way

"These people are not diplomats or heads of state, they're just celebrities," he said.

"Canadian taxpayers should no more pay to have this famous couple visit Canada then to pay for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie or David and Victoria Beckham."

Australia has the same system in which the Australian Government pays for tours to Australia by any member of the Queen's family with the designation HRH.

Canadians appear to be turning off the royals though. In a national opinion poll conducted in November, 2010, 61 per cent of Canucks said they believe the monarchy should not have any formal role in Canadian society because the royals are "simply celebrities and nothing more".

Using Access to Information data on previous royal visits, along with anticipated expenses by the provinces, CCR has estimated that the 8-day royal visit will cost an estimated CAD$500,000 to CAD$700,000 (same AUD) per day or roughly CAD$4-6 million in total.

Due to the economic downturn, Canada has recently had Government programmes slashed in all areas, causing Canadian outrage at this unnecessary extra expense.

"How can spending unnecessary millions on this royal visit be justified?" said Tom Freda.

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