The Courier-Mail

Flights of fancy add up for MPs

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WHILE Australian­s have been told they are living beyond their means, federal MPs have clocked a 27 per cent increase in private flights.

The spike in charter travel over the past five years comes despite the growth of regional airports, more domestic routes and upgraded highways. In many cases, MPs have used charter flights to take them to regional centres for one-day stopovers and photo opportunit­ies. When in government, MPs from both sides have used charter travel to ferry them to Canberra instead of catching domestic flights.

Former Labor leader and Gillard-Rudd minister Simon Crean racked up more than $286,000 in charter flight claims in 2011 and 2012.

According to Department of Finance documents, Mr Crean travelled from Ballina to Wollongong and back home to Melbourne on a single day in mid2012, costing taxpayers $27,500.

Fellow Labor MPs Tony Burke and Gary Gray made charter travel claims of $402,101 and $361,041 between mid-2008 and December last year. In the same period, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss claimed more than $204,000 on charter flights.

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