Queensland Labor is calling for Jarrod Bleijie’s resignation over a $15,000 helicopter bill.
Queensland Labor is calling for Jarrod Bleijie’s resignation over a $15,000 helicopter bill. Tom Huntley

Thought Bishop was bad? Bleijie hires 2 choppers for $15k

KAWANA MP Jarrod Bleijie is in the firing line over a $14,980 taxpayer bill he racked up hiring two helicopters to fly himself and two other LNP parliamentarians to Lincoln Springs from Townsville last June.

Labor Attorney General Yvette D'Ath has called for Mr Bleijie's resignation over the bill which she claimed was incurred to allow Mr Bleijie, and the then Member for Thuringowa, Sam Cox, and Member for Cairns, Gavin King, to make the 300km round trip to participate in a State Government promotional video about its youth boot camp initiative.

The boot camp was already at the centre of controversy after it was revealed last year Mr Bleijie ignored an advisory panel to award the contract to Beyond Billabong which the following week made a $5500 donation to the LNP.

A KPMG audit of the youth boot camp strategy is due for release in the near future.

Ms D'Ath said that with all the outrage being directed at Federal Parliament Speaker Bronwyn Bishop over a $5200 bill for a 75 km helicopter ride to attend a Liberal Party fund raiser in Melbourne, she found it equally outrageous that Mr Bleijie, Queensland's former attorney-general, had directed his department to pay nearly $15,000 for two helicopters.

READ RELATED: Bronwyn Bishop on probation: Tony Abbott

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The charter was paid according to a spokesman for the current Minister, at Mr Bleijie's request from the department's budget.

The spokesman said seven people had made the Saturday trip in the two choppers including the three politicians, a police officer, a photographer who it's claimed filmed the promotional video and Ms Torhild Parkinson who was at the time head of Townsville's Community Safety Committee.

"He thought this kind of waste was appropriate because he didn't want to sit in a car," Ms D'Ath said.

Mr Bleijie is overseas and unavailable to answer questions about the matter.

However Deputy Opposition Leader John Paul Langbroek has leapt to Mr Bleijie's defence saying he was confident that he had made certain beforehand that the expenditure was consistent with guidelines.

Mr Langbroek said the alternative would have meant an eight-hour car journey. He said there was a significant amount of security attached to Mr Bleijie at the time because of the VLAD laws.

Ms D'Ath said Mr Bleijie had no other meetings or responsibilities listed in his ministerial diary for that day.

She made the return trip from Townsville to Lincoln Springs, two hours west of Ingham in the Valley of the Lagoons, last weekend the journey taking three hours in each direction and consuming one tank of fuel.

"It's up to Jarrod Bleijie to account for this shocking waste of taxpayers' money," she said.

"If he can't, then Lawrence Springborg must remove him from his front bench."

A Labor spokesman said Mr Bleijie had first attempted to use the government's air wing to fly to Lincoln Springs but there is no suitable landing strip available.

The spokesman said the charter letter Mr Bleijie had accepted with his ministry had required he identify wasteful expenditure and to shift that money into front line services.

Instead, he claimed, Mr Bleijie had sacked 65 youth justice workers and spent the money wastefully.

"There were no time constraints,'' the spokesman said.

"That was the only thing on his diary for the Saturday and he only had one meeting on the Sunday. $15,000 will purchase a lot in the youth justice area."



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