Labor defend Lauren Moss over UN conference travel, despite calling almost identical tour by CLP minister a ‘junket’ | Englishheadline


The Northern Territory’s Environment Minister charged taxpayers almost $60,000 to attend a conference in New York.

Lauren Moss and an adviser travelled business class to the United States in March where she gave an address to the United Nations Water Conference.

The cost of the trip – $59,633.79 – was quietly published on an NT Government website last month.

It included $52,000 for business class airfares on Qantas and United Airlines, $3600 for accommodation, including at the four-star Sonesta Shelburne hotel in New York, and $3400 for other expenses including meals and incidentals.

Acting Chief Minister Nicole Manison defended the cost of the trip.

“This was about First Nations people and water security and that is a topic that we have a great deal of expertise in,” she said.

In 2015, when Labor was in opposition, Ms Manison criticised former Country Liberal Party Minister Bess Price for spending $50,000 on an almost identical trip to attend a United Nations conference in New York.

“Where was the real benefit to the Territory by spending $50,000 of taxpayers’ money to go an a 10-day trip,” Ms Manison said at the time.

“It just appears to be a junket.”

When quizzed on the apparent contradiction, Ms Manison said the difference had been that Ms Moss had given a speech at the UN conference this year, while Ms Price had not spoken when she attended a UN conference on the status of women in 2014.

She also said Ms Moss had been asked to attend this year’s conference by the Federal Labor Government.

“Many years have passed, prices have gone up, and the important thing is that Minister Moss was representing Australia at this conference,” she said.

When contacted, Ms Moss’s office was unable to say if she purchased carbon credits to offset the emissions from the trip, as it had been booked by the Commonwealth Government which had then been reimbursed by the NT Government.

When in opposition, Labor released a document titled “Restoring Integrity in Government” where it promised to provide greater transparency around interstate and international travel undertaken by members of the legislative assembly.

During its first three years in office, the Labor Government released the details and costings of all trips undertaken by MLAs before they departed.

But since the resumption of international travel following the Covid-19 pandemic, the costs for ministerial travel have only been released months after the travel has occurred.

No costs have been released for travel undertaken by backbenchers.

The latest revelation about the NT Government’s travel expenses came as Chief Minister Natasha Fyles travels through the United States on a trip estimated to cost about $92,000.

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