Senator Bridget McKenzie fails to declare free flights to campaign for Barnaby Joyce

FREE TRAVEL: Senator Bridget McKenzie congratulates Barnaby Joyce on winning the by-election in Tamworth. Photo: Gareth Gardner
FREE TRAVEL: Senator Bridget McKenzie congratulates Barnaby Joyce on winning the by-election in Tamworth. Photo: Gareth Gardner

A SENIOR Nationals politician has found themselves in hot water, after failing to declare they had received free flights to Tamworth to campaign for party leader Barnaby Joyce during the December by-election.

Nationals deputy leader Senator Bridget McKenzie’s office says she’ll be updating her gift register as soon as possible, however the admission comes only after probing questions from the media.

The ABC reported airline Regional Express (Rex) offered charter services for National party politicians from Canberra to Tamworth on Friday, December 1, with a return flight to Canberra on Sunday, December 3.

The New England by-election was held on Saturday, December 2.

A spokeswoman admitted Senator McKenzie had received free travel and said the failure to disclose it had been an oversight within the senator’s office.

Senator McKenzie was not the only Nationals politician to take up the free flight offer, valued at $500, as party members from across the country rallied in Tamworth to support Mr Joyce.

However, she was the only one not to declare it with in required 35 days – John Williams, Darren Chester, David Littleproud, Damian Drum, Andrew Broad and Michelle Landy all update their register in December.

A Rex spokeswoman told ABC the airline made donations to political parties, which the parties determined how they would use.

“The donations are normally provided as a travel budget for Rex flights,” she said.

“It is up to each party to decide how they wish to make use of the budget.”

Disclosures show Rex donated more than $17,000 to the Nationals in the 2016-17 financial year. There were no donations declared to the Liberal or Labor parties during that period.

Senator McKenzie’s hiccup is an unnecessary distraction for Mr Joyce and the Coalition during the first sitting of parliament in 2018.

While it’s a new year, an old issue has once again reared its head in parliament, with more questions being raised over the dual-citizenship status of a number of politicians.

The Coalition has threatened to refer Labor MP Susan Lamb to the High Court if she does not resign, due to her British dual-citizenship. Documents filed on the citizenship register show Ms Lamb has been unable to confirm with the British Home Office if she still holds dual-citizenship. 

This story Nats politician caught out on free flights to campaign for Barnaby Joyce first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.