06 August 2015
I welcome the scrutiny in some newspapers today about my travel arrangements. The travel of Members of Parliament and Senators should indeed be scrutinised. In particular the public need to know the real reason for the travel of parliamentarians, and whether it is genuinely work-related or just a front for a private or family junket.
The charter flight associated with me which was reported in the newspapers today was organised by the Government and picked up a number of parliamentarians for a parliamentary sitting when commercial flights were disrupted by Qantas industrial action. I did not request, organise or authorise the flight. The cost should not have been attributed to me and I have today written to the Department of Finance asking them to correct the record.
The January 2014 trip to Darwin was entirely to do with the live animal export issue. I met with the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association and other industry stakeholders at a number of locations. There were no private engagements.
The Brisbane trip in April 2014 had two purposes, firstly to meet with the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council and the Northern Territory Livestock Export Association regarding the live animal export industry. The other purpose was to meet with Glencore Xtrata and BHP Billiton regarding fly-in fly-out employment opportunities for Tasmanians. Again there were no private engagements.
I remain firmly of the view that there needs to be an audit of all Members of Parliament and Senators’ travel. No reasonable member of the community would believe that parliamentarians should be tripping around the country and overseas at taxpayers’ expense principally for private purposes.