Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

HOW MP SPENT $11,000 ON ONE FLIGHT MP Says Politicians Must Be Honest with Expenses

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

HOW MP SPENT $11,000 ON ONE FLIGHT MP Says Politicians Must Be Honest with Expenses

Article excerpt

Byline: Tara Miko tara.miko@thechronicle.com.au

IAN Macfarlane has defended an $11,000 flight in the wake of increased scrutiny of MP spendings caused by the Bronwyn Bishop choppergate scandal.

The Federal Member for Groom said the $11,081.82 return flight from Canberra to Toowoomba was to open a new arts centre.

The flight was the only chartered trip detailed in the federal parliamentary expenditures for the six months to December 31.

Mr Macfarlane justified the spending of taxpayer monies as a way to fulfil political obligations of his portfolio and electorate.

"On September 8 last year, I had a commitment in the morning with the Prime Minister in Canberra to announce major reforms to skills and training, then a commitment in Toowoomba to officiate on behalf of the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, and I was required to return to Canberra later that evening for Ministerial meetings and a Cabinet meeting," Mr Macfarlane said.

Mr Macfarlane claimed a total of $349,532.40 in expenses for the six months including $45,385 on domestic airfares and more than $131,700 in office facilities expenses.

The documents also show Mr Macfarlane was a regular passenger through Brisbane airport, casting speculation as to whether he used Wellcamp Airport when on official duty in the Groom electorate.

"I have regularly used the Wellcamp Airport since it opened, subject to the flights allowing for meeting and time commitments to be met," he said.

"Using the Wellcamp Airport where possible is not only cost effective but it also maximises my time in the electorate, enabling me to meet with more people and attend more community events."

The airport officially opened on November 17 last year.

Taxpayers dished out almost $40,000 for Mr Macfarlane to attend meetings in Japan, South Korea and India as part of the LNG Producers and Consumers Conference from November 4-12.

Fares for that trip totalled $31,426.44.

"As a minister based in regional Australia, I oversee a very diverse portfolio covering industry, energy, resources and science," he said.

"This portfolio covers every state and territory and requires meetings and site visits in various parts of the country, as well as regular trips to Canberra for the sittings of Parliament. …

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