DAN PELED

Bleijie blasted for costly $15k helicopter ride

KAWANA MP Jarrod Bleijie is in the firing line over a $14,980 taxpayer bill he racked up hiring two helicopters to fly himself and two other LNP parliamentarians to Lincoln Springs from Townsville last June.

Labor Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath has called for Mr Bleijie's resignation over the bill, which she claimed was incurred to allow Mr Bleijie, and the then Member for Thuringowa, Sam Cox, and Member for Cairns, Gavin King, to make the 300km round trip to participate in a State Government promotional video about its youth boot camp initiative.

The boot camp was already at the centre of controversy after it was revealed last year Mr Bleijie ignored an advisory panel to award the contract to Beyond Billabong, which the following week made a $5500 donation to the LNP.

A KPMG audit of the youth boot camp strategy is due for release in the near future.

Ms D'Ath said that with all the outrage being directed at Federal Speaker Bronwyn Bishop over a $5200 bill for a 75km helicopter ride to attend a Liberal Party fundraiser in Melbourne, she found it equally outrageous that Mr Bleijie, Queensland's former attorney-general, had directed his department to pay nearly $15,000 for two helicopters.

What constitutes an MP entitlement?
What constitutes an MP entitlement?

The charter was paid, according to a spokesman for the current Minister, at Mr Bleijie's request from the department's budget.

The spokesman said seven people had made the Saturday trip in the two choppers, including the three politicians, a police officer, a photographer who it is claimed filmed the promotional video, and Ms Torhild Parkinson, who at the time was head of Townsville's Community Safety Committee.

"He thought this kind of waste was appropriate because he didn't want to sit in a car," Ms D'Ath said.

Where do you draw the line on MP entitlements?

This poll ended on 31 July 2015.

Current Results

The item should involve the MP being part of or helping the community only

21%

I think MPs take their entitlements for granted-why take a chopper when you can drive?

70%

Transport is part of their job, leave them alone

8%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Mr Bleijie is overseas and unavailable to answer questions about the matter.

However Deputy Opposition Leader John Paul Langbroek leapt to Mr Bleijie's defence, saying he was confident that he had made certain beforehand that the expenditure was consistent with guidelines.

Mr Langbroek said the alternative would have meant an eight-hour car journey. He said there was a significant amount of security attached to Mr Bleijie at the time because of the VLAD laws.

Ms D'Ath said Mr Bleijie had no other meetings or responsibilities listed in his ministerial diary for that day.

She made the return trip from Townsville to Lincoln Springs, two hours west of Ingham in the Valley of the Lagoons, last weekend. The journey took three hours each way.

"It's up to Jarrod Bleijie to account for this shocking waste of taxpayers' money," Ms D'Ath said.

"If he can't, then Lawrence Springborg must remove him from his front bench."

A Labor spokesman said Mr Bleijie had first attempted to use the government's air wing to fly to Lincoln Springs but there was no suitable landing strip.

The spokesman said the charter that Mr Bleijie had accepted with his ministry required that he identify wasteful expenditure and shift that money into frontline services.

Instead, he claimed, Mr Bleijie had sacked 65 youth justice workers and spent the money wastefully.


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