Jet-setting costing us $15,000 a month

JET-SETTING state ministers are costing taxpayers $15,000 a month in travel expenses.

Since July 1, the eight members of state cabinet have collectively spent $122,569 on intrastate, interstate and overseas trips.

This includes airfares, taxis, petrol, accommodation and meals.

Right to Information documents show the biggest spender was Premier Lara Giddings, who accounted for a third of the travel costs.

Ms Giddings racked up a $41,808 bill, including $29,000 on flights, $1000 on taxi fares and more than $10,000 on accommodation and meals.

This included her 12-day September trade mission to Asia.

Over the same period, Opposition Leader Will Hodgman spent $4073 on travel and related expenses.

The bill for Greens leader and minister Nick McKim was $5639.

The second biggest jet-setter in cabinet was Deputy Premier Bryan Green, who spent $18,767 in the first half of this financial year, followed by Attorney-General Brian Wightman, who spent $15,771.

Based on these figures, which were sought and released by the Liberal Party, the government is on track to double last year's travel.

In 2010-11, when the parliamentary travel bill was $674,000, Ms Giddings promised to clamp down on taxpayer-funded ministerial travel.

At the time, she ruled out a blanket ban but said approval would be given only for ``targeted, short, sharp trips'' that supported business, jobs or investment in Tasmania.

A government spokesman said Tasmanian ministers must work alongside their counterparts from around the nation in order to have a strong voice at the negotiating table.

``All travel and related costs approved were consistent with recognised guidelines and include things such as ministerial councils and parliament-related expenses,'' the spokesman said.

``The largest cost incurred was for the Premier's trip to Asia to support the creation of jobs and opportunity here in Tasmania. This cost was declared at the time of the trip.''

He said Mr Green had incurred considerable costs in providing support to King Island in the wake of its main employer closing the island's abattoir.

Deputy Opposition Leader Jeremy Rockliff said too much was being spent on ministerial travel and accommodation costs at a time when the deficit was the worst in Tasmania's history.

``The government should be setting an example from the top down,'' Mr Rockliff said.

``Yet Labor and the Greens are treating taxpayers' funds like a magic pudding when it comes to travel and accommodation.''

He said the opposition had  outlined how it would cut $480 million in waste.

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