Australian taxpayers are paying millions of dollars for round-the-world travel by public servants attending global talks on climate change at a rate of more than one global gathering per week, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment Simon Birmingham said today.
The Gillard Government spent $2.74 million on travel by public servants to attend 64 overseas climate change meetings during 2009-10, according to information revealed through the Senate Estimates process. This does not include any travel by Ministers or their advisers to meetings such as the Copenhagen conference.
The answers* reveal that in 2009-10:
- The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency was represented at 64 different global meetings more than one a week
- The overseas travel was undertaken by 93 staff, with all but one travelling in business or first class
- $2.74 million was spent on the travel to these conferences
- $1.63 million was spent on overseas meals and accommodation
- The leading spenders were the Government’s three non-ministerial envoys:
- Mr Howard Bamsey, Special Envoy on Climate Change $229,887
- Ms Louise Hand, Ambassador for Climate Change $192,657
- Ms Harinder Sidhu, Chief Adviser International $95,580
- 30 more overseas trips are currently planned
- 405 departmental staff travelled interstate at a cost of $546,758
“Labor is sending an army of advisers around-the-world to discuss climate change, but they appear to be making all the advances of the British at Dunkirk,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“With more than one global gathering for climate talks happening every week of the year, it would seem that Labor’s Climate Change Department seems to fancy itself as some kind of Foreign Affairs Department in exile.
“While Australia should be represented on the world stage, taxpayers have a right to ask whether the huge sums being spent on seemingly never-ending climate change talks are giving them value for money or simply filling pages in dozens of public service passports.”
*The answers, to questions on notice 77, 99 and 103, will be posted online by the Senate Committee at http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/eca_ctte/estimates/bud_1011/ccee/index.htm