Victoria Cross recipient Keith Payne can’t understand why so many public servants were sent to Turkey for Anzac Day celebrations this year.
Victoria Cross recipient Keith Payne can’t understand why so many public servants were sent to Turkey for Anzac Day celebrations this year. John Gass

Taxpayers fund Anzac trip

DO YOU think up to 100 public servants travelling to Gallipoli for Anzac Day at taxpayers' expense is a bit excessive?

All this while Diggers who served our country were back in Australia, unable to afford the trip themselves.

The Federal Government spent more than $3.3 million to stage the commemoration services in Turkey this year, an exercise that included flying a small army of public servants and politicians from Australia.

"I just can't see the justification in sending that many public servants over," Mackay man and Victoria Cross recipient Keith Payne said.

A veteran of Vietnam and Korea, Mr Payne was responding to information obtained by a southern media outlet in a freedom of information request that revealed the Department of Veterans' Affairs, which is in charge of the Gallipoli arrangements, spent more than $330,000 to send 25 staff there.

The RAAF band, Australia's Federation Guard, ABC staff as well as ministers, their advisors and partners were also sent to Turkey for the service in April.

The Department of Veterans Affairs' bill included $200,000 for airfares, $58,000 for accommodation and $35,000 for cars and cabs.

Mr Payne said he understood ministers, their partners and some staff were necessary to stage the event, but the department needed to justify why so many others had been sent.

"They can say why all these people went. If they were studying or doing research or something, then let's see their reports," Mr Payne said. "What good to the nation comes out of sending a whole heap of public servants?"

Mr Payne said it was the department's responsibility to say who should go and who shouldn't, but it was unfair for taxpayers to foot the bill for those who didn't need to be there.



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