Taxpayers paid $63,000 for ministers’ flights upon defence jets

After last year’s liberal leadership spill, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann flew on Royal Australian Air Force planes in order to attend swearing-in ceremonies. Australian taxpayers paid for the flights, which cost $63,000, according to ABC.

The week before the extravagant flights, which were serviced by commercial airlines, both Dutton and Cormann resigned from office, citing lapsed support for Malcolm Turnbull. The Sunday after the leadership spill, Dutton flew to Canberra from an air force base outside of Brisbane. The next day he was sworn in again as Home Affairs Minister; hours later he flew to the Gold Coast. All told his travel expenses were $25,396. He has not commented since the story broke.

In the case of Cormann, he flew from Perth to Canberra at a cost of $1,823. He was sworn in, and then he returned to Perth on a CL604 Challenger jet, racking up a cost of $37,720.

A spokesperson for Cormann rationalized the travel decisions as being the most practical under the circumstances, stating that no commercial flights were available (official guidelines state that military aircraft cannot be used when commercial alternatives are available).

“In the context of the high frequency of necessary work-related travel from Perth to Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne and back, Senator Cormann is an infrequent user of the special purpose aircraft, and only if that use is appropriate in the circumstances,” the spokesperson said. They added:

“On 28 August 2018 Senator Cormann was required both in Canberra and back in Perth later that day. Inevitably that travel from Canberra to Perth is more expensive than travel to locations on the East Coast. Two senior staff also travelled with the Minister on this occasion to facilitate dealing with office work on the five-hour trip back from Canberra to Perth that day.”

Such behavior appears to be somewhat habitual for Cormann. ABC reports that in the past he has “booked flights costing $37,000 so he could spruik the Government’s personal tax cuts and lobby crossbenchers for its corporate tax plan.”

I don’t know about you, but next time my commercial flight is delayed I’m demanding a free upgrade to the CL604 Challenger. It will get paid for somehow.