It’s Gina Rinehart’s party, I’ll fly if I want to

Article by Mark Di Stefano courtesy of the Australian financial review.

It can be easy to miss one of the Senate’s notorious midnight estimates hearings.

Deep into extra time on Monday evening, keen Rear Window reader (and Labor senator) Tony Sheldon asked the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority about the travel arrangements of MPs who flew to Gina Rinehart’s National Mining Day at Roy Hill in November last year.

Video from Hancock Prospecting shows Opposition Leader Peter Dutton with Gina Rinehart and Roy Hill CEO Gerhard Veldsman. Hancock Prospecting

Notably: what was the go with former resources minister Keith Pitt billing the taxpayer for flights to Perth?

When we covered the bush doof late last year, Pitt told us he’d written to the expenses watchdog to get confirmation that the start and end of the trip was considered “parliamentary business”.

The problem – as Sheldon pointed out – was that Pitt did have parliamentary business, sitting as he does as deputy chairman of the parliament’s joint committee on corporations and financial services. That committee met on Tuesday, November 21, in Canberra. Some members joined via video link. Pitt did not.

Instead, Pitt was jetting west. Whatever Pitt’s parliamentary business was in Perth, well, it must have been quick. The MP for Hinkler was back in his hometown of Bundaberg doing a Sky News cross on November 24.

This is all before you get to the high-flying activities around National Mining Day. Attendees caught four Qantas chartered flights, to go from Perth to Bali, to Port Headland, to Roy Hill, and back to Perth. We hear from one attendee the all-inclusive package, with flights and dinners in Bali and Roy Hill, cost $10,000 per person. Pitt maintains he bore this cost personally and no one is suggesting otherwise.

Dipping into your savings makes sense for someone like Pitt, who has never been able to conceal his raging zeal for mining and Rinehart. As previously mentioned, Pitt interrupted plane passengers three times to riff on that adoration. Video released by Hancock Prospecting last month shows opposition resources spokeswoman Susan McDonald also got in on the Wedding Singer routine.

Opposition resources spokeswoman Susan McDonald serenading the plane. Hancock Prospecting.

Along with Pitt and McDonald, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and Senator Pauline Hanson (with her aide James Ashby) also made the questionable national observance for Australia’s richest person. Curiously, all needed to come from Queensland. (The lone politician from Western Australia was Perth’s lord mayor, the sycophant’s sycophant Basil Zempilas).

We’re still waiting for Rinehart’s patronage to show up on the Canberra registers of interest for the Queensland contingent. The one trace so far has come from Dutton’s office, disclosing that the Opposition Leader’s return flight from Perth to Roy Hill was given to him by Warburton Group, the office of billionaire and private jet owner Tim Roberts. For some, there’s always someone ready to pick up the tab.