Australian taxpayers may be paying as much as £146,000 towards the cost of a yet to be completed "jewel-encrusted carriage" for Elizabeth Windsor. It is to be an 80th birthday present for the country’s absentee head of state, although Ms. Windsor reached her 80th year in 2006.
The West Australian newspaper reported that the gift will cost £418,000 to build. It is expected to have door handles featuring gold, sapphire and diamonds.
Most of the cost will be borne by the builder, a Mr. Frecklington. He has already received £105,000 from a total federal government allocation that will also cover the cost of delivering the gift to Ms. Windsor, who is domiciled in the United Kingdom .
The Prime Minister’s office has admitted that no government official has bothered to inspect the carriage or visit its builder. No conditions were attached to the grant and Mr. Frecklington was under no obligation to complete the gift in time for the birthday of the feudal head of state. Labour Senator John Faulkner may ask for an investigation by the Auditor-General.