Mathias Cormann spent $37,000 on flights in one day to lobby for tax plan | Australia news
Dan Tehan has defended the finance minister Mathias Cormann’s decision to spend almost $40,000 in travel costs in one day to promote the government’s tax plan as “within the rules”.
Cormann booked a defence jet on 22 June last year to fly between Perth and Canberra to lobby for support for the now abandoned company tax plan. Cormann booked the special purpose flight after no commercial planes fitted the schedule, which included media duties in Canberra, a visit to Adelaide and then back to Perth in between parliamentary sittings, at a cost of $37,000, the ABC reported.
Commercial flights for Cormann’s travel between his home state of Western Australia and Canberra for parliamentary sittings usually cost no more than $3,000.
A spokesperson for Christopher Pyne, whose portfolio includes responsibility for defence aircraft, told the ABC consideration for a minister’s duties and the availability of commercial travel was taken into account before approval was given.
Speaking to ABC TV on Friday morning, Tehan said there was no issue.
“The Australian taxpayer can look at that and say it was within the rules, within the guidelines, and also he was there on business,” the education minister said.
Under the rules governing use of special purpose aircraft, the travel “must be for the dominant purpose of the minister’s parliamentary business” and “must ensure that expenses incurred provide value for money, taking into account the need to conduct the minister’s parliamentary business”.
Cormann made the trip when the government was attempting to woo South Australian Centre Alliance senators Stirling Griff and Rex Patrick and independent senator Tim Storer to its side for the company tax plan.
The government had attempted to reduce the company tax rate from 30% to 25%, but was forced to abandon the proposal after failing to gain the support of enough of the crossbench.
Cormann, under the Malcolm Turnbull-led government, was the main driver of the proposal, and as leader of government business in the Senate, was tasked with negotiating with the crossbench.
The plan was abandoned when Scott Morrison took over as leader, after it proved unpopular during the Longman byelection.