Flying high for health

flight airplane travel

Recently released data shows the level of travel expenses accrued by Department of Health officials, and by leading health political figures

As reported in pharmaceutical industry news website Pharma In Focus recently, the Department of Health admitted in a response to a Senate Estimates question that it had, in the 2016/17 financial year, purchased 19,100 airfares at a total cost of $7.87 million.

According to Pharma In Focus, more than 70% of these flights were booked with Qantas, despite the Department’s stated commitment to comply with the government’s ‘lowest practical fare policy’.

The Department’s expenses swamped those of politicians holding health portfolios.  

According to data from the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority, Health Minister Greg Hunt spent around $100,000 on international and domestic air travel, car expenses and accommodation in the first half of 2018.

Mr Hunt’s biggest expense was a $55,633 trip to the US to attend the Bio International Convention to “conduct bilateral and stakeholder meetings and undertake site visits.”

His domestic travel fares totalled over $16,000, and car expenses were around $25,000. Mr Hunt had a travel allowance of $9,000 for accommodation.

However Mr Hunt’s expenses were moderate when compared to those of his predecessor Sussan Ley, who’s career was brought to a halt by expenses claims.  

Opposition Health Spokesperson Catherine King totalled up around $58,000 in air, car and accommodation expenses in the same period. She had no overseas trips claimed in this period.

Minister for Indigenous Health and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, had around $82,000 in total for these expenses in the first half of 2018. 

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