Blei­jie un­der fire for heli tab

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

A QUEENS­LAND Lib­eral Na­tional Party politi­cian out­spent Fed­eral Speaker Bron­wyn Bishop on char­tered he­li­copter flights in what’s been blasted as a dis­gust­ing waste of taxpayers’ money.

The La­bor Gov­ern­ment has taken aim at for­mer at­tor­neygen­eral Jar­rod Blei­jie, who spent $ 14,980 to char­ter two he­li­copters for a visit to a North Queens­land boot camp in June last year.

For­mer MPs Gavin King and Sam Cox joined Mr Blei­jie on the 300km re­turn flight from Townsville to Lin­coln Springs, At­tor­ney- Gen­eral Yvette D’Ath’s of­fice said, cit­ing de­part­men­tal records.

The trio shot a pro­mo­tional video, which still ap­pears online, about the Lib­eral Na­tional Party’s tough- on- crime ap­proach.

Ms D’Ath said the flights to the Lin­coln Springs boot camp, west of Townsville, came at a time when the LNP was at­tempt­ing to curb waste.

“I went out there in a car on less than a tank of petrol,” she said yesterday.

“This is dis­gust­ing. It is out­ra­geous.”

Ms D’Ath ques­tioned why Mr Blei­jie had asked the Youth Jus­tice Di­vi­sion to foot the bill, rather than record­ing it un­der his own min­is­te­rial ex­penses.

But the trip had saved Mr Blei­jie an eight- hour car trip, deputy LNP leader JohnPaul Lang­broek said.

“He also had sig­nif­i­cant se­cu­rity be­cause of the VLAD ( Vi­cious Law­less As­so­ci­a­tion Dis­es­tab­lish­ment) laws that were around at the time.”

When asked whether taxpayers would ex­pect Mr Blei­jie to pay the money back, Mr Lang­broek replied: “There are too many hy­po­thet­i­cals in that ques­tion”.

He said all MPs were re­quired to en­sure their travel ex­penses were in line with en­ti­tle­ment re­quire­ments and was con­fi­dent Mr Blei­jie did just that. Mr Blei­jie’s se­cu­rity de­tail in­volved just one Queens­land po­lice of­fi­cer, a spokesman for Ms D’Ath said.

But the Gov­ern­ment stopped short of de­mand­ing Mr Blei­jie pay back the money, as Mrs Bishop has done.

“With all of the out­rage to­wards the Speaker of the Fed­eral Par­lia­ment, I find it just as out­ra­geous that the for­mer at­tor­ney- gen­eral di­rected the depart­ment to pay for this,” Ms D’Ath said.

The Fed­eral Speaker is un­der fire for spend­ing $ 5227.27 on a char­tered he­li­copter from Mel­bourne to Gee­long for a Lib­eral Party event at a golf club.

She has agreed to re­pay the money but not to apol­o­gise nor step down as Speaker.

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