Seeney blasted for high travel bill
REGIONAL Queensland MPs are entitled to aspire to leadership roles in the State Government and the hefty travel bill that comes with it.
A fiery exchange ensued between Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney during Queensland estimate hearings on Wednesday morning over Mr Seeney's high travel bill.
Government expenses tabled to Parliament earlier this year revealed Mr Seeney clocked up almost $65,000 in travel costs over three months after the LNP's victory at the election.
Mr Seeney used charter flights to travel between his Central Queensland electorate of Callide and Brisbane.
Mr Seeney maintained the expenditure was not a waste of taxpayers' money.
He said regional Queensland MPs should be able to travel to do their jobs.
"To suggest regional members of parliament cannot be in leadership roles is something I reject completely," he said.
"Regional members can aspire to leadership roles...it does require travel to and from Brisbane.
"I need to travel from where I live to Brisbane to do this job and I will continue to do so."
Ms Palaszczuk pointed out commercial flights operated from Brisbane to Biloela-Thangool, an hour's drive from Mr Seeney's hometown of Monto and at a much smaller cost of $197 one way.
But while Mr Seeney admitted to utilising the commercial airlines on occasion, its "sub-standard" schedule did not always fit in with the diary of a deputy premier.
He continued to defend his travel bill after Ms Palaszczuk pointed out Mines and Natural Resources Minister Andrew Cripps drove an hour to Townsville from his hometown to catch commercial flights to Brisbane.
"(Mr Cripps) is quite obviously not the deputy premier," Mr Seeney said.
Mr Seeney did admit his bill was "very expensive" and said he had reduced his charter flights since that period.
The heated estimates exchange came after an earlier revelation that up to nine regional development officer positions had been axed across the state, including on the Sunshine Coast.
Ms Palaszczuk said Mr Seeney's estimated annual travel bill of $260,000 amounted to five salaries.