Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has said he didn’t notice that he hadn’t been charged more than $2700 dollars in flights for a January 2018 family holiday to Singapore – an amount he repaid yesterday after being contacted by the media.
Senator Cormann booked the January 2018 return flights for himself, his wife and two children through travel company Helloworld in July 2017.
He said an administrative error led to the company failing to charge his credit card, and only followed it up yesterday after the Sydney Morning Herald raised it with his office.
“At no point, until approached by the media yesterday, did I receive any reminders that the payment due remained outstanding, even though I now understand it appeared as outstanding and unresolved on the internal Helloworld system since that time,” Senator Cormann said in a statement.
“The payment was processed immediately once it became apparent to me that it remained outstanding.”
He said he thought his credit card had been charged when he booked the economy flights.
Liberal Party treasurer is Helloworld CEO
Senator Cormann released a letter he received from Helloworld, dated February 19, 2019, in which chief financial officer Michael Burnett said reminder payment notices had not been sent to the Finance Minister despite the payment being listed as “outstanding”.
“The flights were never ‘free’ and they were never intended to be free,” Mr Burnett said in the letter.
The chief executive of Helloworld is federal Liberal Party treasurer Andrew Burnes.
Senator Cormann denied there was any link between the flights and a subsidiary of Helloworld being awarded a government travel contract.
“At no point did I influence or seek to influence the outcome of that tender process,” he said.
“I had absolutely no role in the awarding of this tender or during the subsequent contract negotiations with the preferred tenderer.”