Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles took a 2,000 kilometre round trip on a taxpayer-funded flight to watch the Cricket World Cup on Sunday in India.
The Defence Minister and Foreign Minister Penny Wong are in India to co-chair the 2nd India-Australia 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi.
But it has now emerged he popped into Ahmedabad, which is 1,000 kilometres away, to attend the world cup in the cricket-mad country.
His latest VIP flight comes after revelations Mr Marles’ expenses for flights have totalled nearly $3.6 million this year.
But taxpayers may never know a breakdown of the cost of the cricket trip because Mr Marles’ department has banned the publication of where ministers are flying on “security grounds”.
This is despite the fact the Defence Minister posed for photographs during the cricket game and the Indian Government put out a press release the day before he attended.
His office confirmed he made the journey on a taxpayer-funded RAAF VIP jet for the six-hour pitstop before flying to New Delhi.
“Look who is here to support and cheer for #TeamAustralia! Our Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence @RichardMarlesMP is at, #Ahmedabad to witness #INDvsAUS #CWC2023Final,‘’ the Australian High Commissioner Philip Green said.
“It cannot get bigger than this!”
During the ICC event, Australian captain Pat Cummins was presented the World Cup trophy by Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, and deputy prime minister, Richard Marles.
However, video footage of the moment shows the pair then left the stage leaving Cummins alone while they shook the hands of the remainder of the Australian team.
In August, news.com.au revealed Mr Marles took a ride on a RAAF flight to attend the Matildas World Cup semi-final at an estimated cost to taxpayers of $16,000. He has not revealed the defence department’s own estimate of the cost of the flight despite requests to do so.
On the afternoon of August 16, an RAAF VIP flight flew from Brisbane, where Mr Marles had attended several press events, to Sydney.
A spokeswoman for Mr Marles confirmed that any travel was in line with the government rules.
“All travel conducted by the Deputy Prime Minister either in his role as Defence Minister or as Acting Prime Minister is in accordance with the relevant guidelines and security procedures,” the spokeswoman said.
Official figures show that Anthony Albanese is now spending nearly a million dollars on taxpayer-funded flights every three months and is racking up an average of 15 hours on a plane every week.
According to documents published on the Defence department’s website, the Prime Minister’s travel bill for flights alone was $953,904 for the three months from April to June.
But despite cruel jibes that he should be known as “Airbus Albo” because of the amount of time he spends travelling overseas, half of the expenditure was on domestic travel.
Citing security issues, the Defence Department is now refusing to detail the locations that Mr Albanese flew to and from, despite the fact that many of the trips were accompanied by press releases, Instagram posts and involved travelling media.
For example, the Defence Department will not confirm that the Prime Minister flew to London to attend the coronation of Charles III with Governor-General David Hurley during the relevant period.
The trip was the subject of international media coverage. It will not confirm the passengers on the flight, despite the fact that Mr Albanese’s partner Jodi Haydon was photographed attending the coronation and in some instances boarding and disembarking the flight.
In May, Mr Albanese attended the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan. Those flights are also not detailed in the latest figures due to security concerns.
In June, Mr Albanese delivered the keynote address at the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue and met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for annual bilateral discussions. He travelled to Vietnam to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
However, the Defence Department would confirm that less than half of the bill was for international travel.
According to the latest figures obtained by news.com.au, Mr Albanese spent 103.9 hours in the air on domestic flights in the second quarter of this year.
During the same period he spent slightly less time – 81.7 hours in the air on international trips.
Defence Minister Richard Marles was spending $250,000 a month on personal flights during the same period according to the figures.
According to documents published on the department’s website, Mr Marles billed taxpayers $739,776 in military flights for the three months from April to June 30.
The expenses were second only to the Prime Minister who ran up a bill of $953,904 for flight in three months.