Have we reached the bottom of the barrel when it comes to expenses rorts and MPs? Probably not, but it isn’t for a lack of trying. Over the weekend Fairfax papers carried the headline “Two MPs run up $200,000 tab on private flights to work in Canberra”. The MPs in question are the Nationals’ Darren Chester and Mark Coulton. Chester, who represents the seat of Gippsland with an office in far east Victorian town Lakes Entrance, lives four hours drive from Melbourne airport (without traffic), which is then an hour flight from Canberra. If he were to do the drive, then take a commercial flight, it would take the same amount of time as driving directly to Canberra from Lakes Entrance — a five-hour trip.

Former senator Ricky Muir, who was based in Bairnsdale during his short-lived stint in Parliament, used to drive to sitting weeks with his wife at the wheel — but not everyone is a motoring enthusiast. The calculations in the story show that it would take Coulton six hours of combined road and air travel to get to Canberra by commercial flights if he weren’t using a charter plane to get to sitting weeks. Charter flights aren’t always an unnecessary luxury.

Peter Fray

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