GROOM MP Ian Macfarlane missed Toowoomba so much he chartered an $8,410 flight home from Parkes, New South Wales to spend an extra day here before returning to Canberra.
This was just one expense approved out of $319,714 lodged in Expenditure on Entitlements paid by the Department of Finance in the first six months of this year.
Mr Macfarlane said he thought "most reasonable people" would understand his need to return home on Friday night, October 24 last year, "rather than the alternative of Saturday afternoon" before his flight to Canberra on Sunday.
The expensive charter home with no ministerial business to attend in the Garden City might seem like a waste of taxpayer money, but Mr Macfarlane reminded residents in his electorate to "bear in mind that I had been away since the previous Sunday afternoon".
"Ministers are entitled to and regularly use charter flights where normal domestic flights are not feasible," Mr Macfarlane said.
"I flew to Parkes on a commercial flight from Sydney and was advised that I would not be able to return to Toowoomba that night unless I used a charter.
"On that basis there is no similarity with the so-called choppergate affair," he said.
He said that all expenses charged to the taxpayer related to official business in his previous role as Science and Industry Minister and Groom MP, and were not "in relation to any personal or Party activity".
However the chartered flight was used to spend the weekend here.
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"Costs are in relation to travelling, staff costs and office costs as the Member for Groom and Minister for Industry and Science," he said.
This expense comes after Mr Macfarlane was criticised for another chartered flight from Canberra to Toowoomba in May.
He claimed $11,081.82 of taxpayer money on a flight for the opening of an arts centre.
A five-day trip to Washington and Houston from April 19-24 this year cost a total of $50,285.57.
Of this, $37.353.90 was airfares, $6,503.87 used for accommodation and meals, and $4,405.43 in ground transport for three people.
Between January 1 and June 30 this year, Mr Macfarlane claimed:
- $19,021 on a travel allowance
- $51,141.79 in overseas travel
- $33,866.99 in domestic travel
- $23,406.90 in car costs
- $124,966.48 in office facilities
- $50,352.31 in office administration costs
- $4,458.78 in telecommunications
- $4,090.49 in family travel costs
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