Education minister Christopher Pyne has defended billing taxpayers $7000 to fly his family business class from Adelaide to Canberra to watch him in parliament.
The revelations follow on from details of former Labor minister Tony Burke spending a similar amount of taxpayer money on a business class trip for his family to Uluru.
On Channel Nine’s Today show this morning, alongside Labor MP Anthony Albanese, Pyne said: “I don’t see any great benefit on having a running commentary on MP’s travel. We have a root-and-branch inquiry into MPs spending, into the entitlements, and into the taxpayer-funded resources that we need to do our job, so having a constant ongoing discussion about it is hardly in anybodies interest.”
He said none of his parliamentary colleagues had broken travel entitlement rules,and were just doing their jobs.
“What do they want? To stop MPs doing their jobs?,” he said adding that former Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and Opposition MP Tony Burke’s use of taxpayers money, while extravagant, was within the rules.
“The need to make the rules in line with community expectations.
“If the rules are the rules, and people stay within them, you can’t then critisise them,” he said adding that people needed to stop taking “pot shots” at parliamentary ministers.
He also insisted that he did not breach the entitlement rules when he spent more than $7,000 to fly his four children from Adelaide to Canberra in business class to watch him on the opening day of parliament in 2013.
Host Karl Stefanovic asked: “Do you think it’s excessive?”
Pyne replied:”They are the rules, they fly business class to come to Canberra to be part of their dad’s job.
“I am the leader of the House, I don’t think that’s an unfair thing for them to do.”
Albanese also came to Pyne’s defence.
“It is not, I don’t believe, unreasonable that Christopher’s kids were there to see him sworn in just as the day that I was sworn in as deputy prime minister, my son was there along with my wife as a proud moment in our, in our family,” the ALP MP said.
See the interview in full here.
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