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Nationals flying high: taxpayers foot the bill - again.

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Senator Kim Carr

Labor Senator for Victoria Shadow Minister for Public Administration and Open Government, Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation and the Arts 09 June 2005

Nationals flying high taxpayers foot the bill - again

Once again it has been revealed that National Party leadership have reached record highs for use of their RAAF VIP jet flights, with taxpayer's footing the growing bill.

The Herald Sun today reports that National's leader John Anderson and his deputy Mark Vaile have clocked up at least $200,000 worth of VIP jet flights for the year between July 2003 and June 2004. Mr Anderson has used the jet 35 times between Canberra and his home in Gunnedah, Mr Vaile 16 times between Canberra and Taree over the year. In a number of cases the jets were empty for a leg of the flight.

And the $200,000 is by no means the full extent of the bill. The air force does not publish the full costings for the VIP fleet, but does note that there is an additional cost of about $1,920 an hour for this kind of flight.

Mr Anderson's predecessor Tim Fischer made just 14 VIP jet flights between Canberra and his home on Albury in 1997.

Labor fears that the RAAF Challengers are being used by the National Party as a private taxi service.

The VIP fleet performs an important service; we do not want to see it, and the taxpayer's dollar, misused.

This record-high for flights for the National Party leaders is a very serious cause for concern.

The Howard Government behaves more and more as though it thinks it is above accountability.

Further information: Kim Carr 0419 563 922, Catriona Jackson, 0417 142 238. Electorate Office: 62 Lygon St CARLTON SOUTH 3053 Ph: 03 9639 2798 Fax: 03 9639 3109

Canberra Office: Parliament house CANBERRA ACT 2600 Ph: 02 6277 3730 Fax: 02 6277 5911 Email: Toll Free Number: 1800 673 169