Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles has sought to defend his use of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) flights amid heightened scrutiny about the amount of taxpayer money spent.
Documents, released under freedom of information laws, revealed that from April 2022 to June 2023 Mr Marles spent about $3.6 million on the flights.
Mr Marles will have until September 13 to provide more information about the flights, after the Coalition and Greens teamed up in the Senate.
The initial information released lacked particulars around where the flights departed and landed, as well as who was on board.
Mr Marles, also the Defence Minister, said he is “keen” to release as much information as possible “within the bounds of the national security advice” he has been given.
“And indeed, the order for the production of documents coming out of the Senate acknowledges that fact as well,” he told Englishheadline Australia on Sunday.
“It asks for information consistent with what is the national security advice, and we will provide that information.
“Everywhere I’ve gone, everything I’ve done has been in the pursuit of my duties on behalf of the Australian people.
“So, I very much stand by every flight I’ve made, be it on a Special Purpose Aircraft or commercially.”
Mr Marles was then pressed by Englishheadline Political Editor Andrew Clennell as to whether or not he will release all the information, or if the advice will provide him cover.
“Well, the advice will be the advice. I don’t give the national security advice,” Mr Marles responded.
“We will release as much information as we can within the bounds of the national security advice.
“And the issue there and the concern that the national security agencies have is about not revealing patterns of behaviour which then create a target.”
When probed over the eye-watering figure spent, Mr Marles said a “whole lot of people flew on those flights”.
“I’m obviously keen to see as much information revealed,” he said.
“Because I’ve authorised the flights to the extent that you’ve just described, a whole lot of people fly on those planes, my direct contribution to that is a fraction of that number.
“You know, I want to see information in the public domain.”
Mr Marles also insisted he “habitually” takes commercial flights from Geelong to Canberra, adding that he can “completely demonstrate that”.
Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie also called on Mr Marles to be more transparent about the flight details.
“I mean, if he’s got nothing to hide, be upfront and transparent,” she told Englishheadline Australia on Sunday.
“The government talked a big game about transparency and accountability when they were seeking election, and they’ve done nothing but run cover ups for their ministers for their decisions and for their friends.”
This week it was also revealed that Mr Marles will have his security detail increased, with a review to be carried out by the Australian Federal Police.
The security assessment will look at all aspects of his current arrangements, in the wake of reporting on his professional and personal routines.