MP's fly Qantas but Truss spends thousands to charter plane

DEPUTY Prime Minister and Member for Wide Bay Warren Truss has once again spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on a charter flight.

Reports yesterday said Mr Truss chartered a one-way flight between Port Macquarie and Sydney last Thursday afternoon, despite other politicians catching commercial flights between the two centres.

Mr Truss's chartered flight left Port Macquarie half an hour before a commercial Qantas flight departed for the same route and landed 50 minutes before the commercial flight landed.

A spokesman for Mr Truss's office said the commercial flight was not suitable, as Mr Truss needed to be in Sydney for a media conference regarding the airplane debris found on La Reunion Island.

Mr Truss had been in Port Macquarie for a "series of commitments" including a joint media conference with New South Wales Minister Duncan Gay at the Hastings River Bridge.

The spokesman said Mr Truss also needed to be back in Sydney for an evening commitment at the Boao Forum for Asia.

"The only possible return commercial flight was a Qantas flight departing Port Macquarie at 3.45pm," the spokesman said.

"This would have been extremely tight for his Boao commitment and the high risk that the Hastings River media conference would go overtime given the high level of interest on that day surrounding both the bridge event and debris found on La Reunion Island."

>>RELATED: Truss spends $21k to deliver speech about reducing expenditure

It is not clear how much the chartered flight, which was booked last minute the day before it took off, would have cost the taxpayer, but it is estimated to have cost in the thousands.

The chartered flight touched down at 4.10pm - just before the press conference which was scheduled to start at 4.15pm.

The media conference, which had been requested by media unable to visit Port Macquarie, did not start until 4.30pm.

The spokesman said the commercial flight did not land until about 5pm.

The Chronicle checked the times of Qantas flights between the two cities for this coming Thursday and the 3.45pm flight would land at 4.55pm for a cost of $429 for flexible tickets.

Mr Truss did arrive in Port Macquarie on a commercial flight earlier that day.

The flight was chartered less than a week after the Chronicle revealed Mr Truss had spent more than $21,000 on a chartered flight between Canberra and Brisbane to make a post-budget speech at the Conservative Breakfast Club in Brisbane.

His speech focussed on the need for the government to save money.

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