Barnaby Joyce’s debateable use of VIP jet for election bid
Barnaby Joyce spent more than $18,000 of taxpayer funds travelling to the NSW cities of Armidale and Tamworth when he was a Queensland senator trying to win the lower house seat of New England, which includes those two cities.
According to Guardian Australia, in March 2016 Joyce also used a VIP jet for himself and four staff to fly from Tamworth to Canberra on his return from a televised debate against his New England opponent, the independent Tony Windsor.
A spokeswoman for Joyce said that all the travel was within the rules and undertaking in his role as shadow minister for regional development, local government and water. But Joyce’s office declined to explain what official duties he had undertaken in Tamworth and Armidale on the given dates. Between 17 February and 7 August 2013, Joyce spent more than $13,000 on 25 flights in or out of Armidale or Tamworth, according to Guardian Australia.
A Defence Document produced under Freedom of Information laws shows that a VIP 34 squadron jet flew from Melbourne to Tamworth on March 17, 2016, the same night Joyce debated incumbent MP Tony Windsor in Tamworth at a pub forum televised by Sky News. The jet returned from Tamworth to Canberra with Joyce and four staff on 18 March.
An ABC analysis of VIP jet trips suggests the cost to taxpayers, including of leasing the aircraft, is $8000 an hour. The 2hr 50min flight time to and from Tamworth therefore could be calculated as costing more than $20,000.