Big dry spend: drought role behind Joyce's parliamentary spending increase

MORE TRAVEL: Barnaby Joyce's parliamentary expenditure jumped in the last quarter. Photo: Gareth Gardner
MORE TRAVEL: Barnaby Joyce's parliamentary expenditure jumped in the last quarter. Photo: Gareth Gardner

Barnaby Joyce's brief stint as Special Envoy for Drought saw taxpayers slugged with thousands of dollars in travel costs in just three months.

Overall, the New England MP's parliamentary spending increased by more than 60 per cent in the last quarter of 2018, with the majority coming from travelling to isolated and drought-ravaged communities.

The latest report by the Independent Parliamentary Expense Authority reveals the Mr Joyce spent a total of $215,448 from October to December, an increase of almost $82,000 from the previous quarter.

Mr Joyce's employee costs doubled, from $28,500 to $57,000, as he had two additional staff during his time as the Special Envoy on Drought.

That role also saw him travel to small communities across the country, including Charleville and Longreach in rural Queensland.

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His unscheduled transport costs were more than $26,000. In the previous quarter, Mr Joyce's unscheduled transport totalled just $42.

"There is no glamour going to Taroom - you're not going to the Gold Coast," Mr Joyce said.

"You've got to go there, otherwise they believe that you don't take them seriously.

"If you tell them to come down to Canberra and talk to me about it, that is not the answer they're looking for.

"They want you to come to their area, their home and talk to them - and rightly so, because you can't properly understand what's going on unless you're on the ground looking at what's happening."

Mr Joyce's office facilities and administrative costs were also up about $10,000 and $13,000 respectively.

Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie has copped criticism for racking up more than $652,000 in travel bills for her and her staff in 2018, however a spokesman said the senator's various ministerial roles required her to spend most of her time in regional Australia.

This story Big dry spend: drought role behind Joyce's parliamentary spending increase first appeared on The Armidale Express.

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