The Coalition allowed 14 MPs and senators – including more than a quarter of Peter Dutton’s front bench – to travel to a summit in London weeks before they bashed up the PM as ‘Airbus Albo’ for his intense travel schedule.
The large Opposition delegation travelled to an international gathering of conservative politicians called the ‘Alliance for Responsible Citizenship’ from October 28 to November 1.
About 16 per cent of the Coalition’s party room and 26.7 per cent of their front bench took the 17,000km trip from Australia.
Mr Albanese has been roundly criticised by the Opposition, who have jumped on the ‘Airbus Albo’ nickname, with Peter Dutton calling for the PM to scrap his fourth trip in a month to the APEC summit in San Francisco last week.
But Patrick Gorman, the assistant minister to the Prime Minister, told Daily Mail Australia that Mr Albanese’s trips were easier to justify than the huge delegation who travelled to the UK to hear Jordan Peterson speak and deliver their own speeches to conservative figures from around the world.
‘The Albanese Government is working hard to restore our international relationships after a decade of mismanagement,’ Mr Gorman said.
‘It is hard to see how more than a quarter of the Coalition’s frontbench travelling on the dime of foreign billionaires and overseas hedge funds is in Australia’s national interest.’
A large delegation of MPs and Senators from the Opposition attended the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship event – a gathering of international conservative politicians, from October 28 to November 1
Politicians listened to lectures from the likes of Jordan Peterson and delivered speeches of their own to thousands of guests from around the world
Mr Albanese has made 20 trips in the 19 months since he landed the top job.
But at a time when everyday Australians are struggling to pay their mortgages and rents, can’t fill their petrol tanks and interest rates are soaring, the optics of the trips have been less than ideal.
He’s not the first PM to be criticised for their travels. Kevin Rudd earned the nickname ‘Kevin 747’ in his day for his huge mileage.
In reality, Mr Albanese has made a similar number of trips to both Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott in each of their first 12 months on the job.
One Labor insider described Mr Dutton’s criticism of Mr Albanese’s trip to APEC – even though only one prime minister has ever cancelled on the summit due to a death in the family – as an ‘unfair and, frankly, low attempt to incite outrage’.
Labor politicians, including Deputy PM Richard Marles, rushed to Mr Albanese’s defence and said the government ‘made no apology for the fact we are engaging with the world’.
‘What we inherited when we came to power in May of this year was the worst circumstances in terms of our global relations that this country has ever faced.
‘We had the situation with our largest trading partner where there was no contact whatsoever. With the country about whom we have the greatest security anxiety there was no formal defence dialogue in place at all.’
Alex Antic was among notable guests at the event
Former Liberal frontbencher Julian Leeser – who quit as Shadow Indigenous Australians minister during the Voice referendum debate – was also among attendees
Shadow Minister for Home Affairs James Paterson is one Coalition Senator who was critical of Mr Albanese’s decision to attend APEC and leave his government to pass through legislation in his absence last week.
Mr Paterson last week described the APEC trip – which occurred while the government scrambled to address a landmark High Court decision releasing more than 80 asylum seekers – as an ‘abdication of responsibility’.
But Mr Paterson has also repeatedly said that he personally ‘strongly supports the need for the Prime Minister to travel internationally in these times of heightened strategic competition’.
‘We need a seat at the table, but he should not have left the country until this matter was dealt with. He should have used the time he had while he was in the country to make sure that these robust protections for the community passed.
Who was on this trip?
‘He hasn’t done so. That is a failure of leadership by the Prime Minister. That is an abdication of responsibility. He should not be jetting off while criminals remain free to roam the streets.’
According to Senator Paterson’s register of interest, he has spent 34 days in the past 12 months on overseas trips, citing six separate international visits.
Mr Paterson was one of the 14 MPs and senators who attended the ARC summit, alongside former prime minister Scott Morrison, Angus Taylor, Barnaby Joyce and Julian Leeser.
Alex Antic, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, Andrew Hastie, Matt Canavan, Dan Tehan and Anne Webster were also among Coalition guests, as were Henry Pike, Garth Hamilton and David Fawcett.
The Alliance for Responsible Citizenship is the brainchild of psychologist Jordan Peterson, and is described as a centre-right structure to ‘replace… division and drift within conservatism’.
ARC has two shareholders – British billionaire Sir Paul Marshall and Dubai-based investment group Legatum Ventures. The organisation funded the travel of each of the parliamentarians who attended.
Mr Paterson’s register of interests reveals he has travelled to Honolulu, Washington, Singapore, California, New York, Tokyo and London during the 47th Parliament in his role as Shadow Home Affairs minister.
The Alliance for Responsible Citizenship is the brainchild of psychologist Jordan Peterson, and is described as a centre-right structure to ‘replace… division and drift within conservatism’
Mr Paterson’s register of interests reveals he has travelled to Honolulu, Washington, Singapore, California, New York, Tokyo and London during the 47th Parliament in his role as Shadow Home Affairs minister
And former PM Mr Morrison made four separate declarations regarding the trip and subsequent travel while on the other side of the world.
Mr Morrison was gifted a return business class airfare and accommodation to attend ARC from October 28 to November 1.
He spent a further day in London as the guest of the Royal Over-Seas League, and was then flown – business class again – to Edinburgh to host a discussion panel at the University of St Andrews about the ‘politics, economics and leadership of Australia’.
The whirlwind trip didn’t end there for Mr Morrison, who was then gifted a return private charter flight to Tel Aviv, with accommodation and security gifted as the guest of Boris Johnson, former prime minister of the UK.
The PM is now back in Australia. He shared a photograph from Canberra on Monday morning of a Cabinet meeting.
Anthony Albanese has been criticised for his overseas trips. See how they stack up.
The record for most trips abroad by a Prime Minister during their first 12 months in office was set by Kevin Rudd in 2008, but later matched by Tony Abbott and exceeded by Scott Morrison.
Japan (May 23 – 25)
Indonesia (June 5 – 7)
United Arab Emirates (June 27)
Spain (June 27 – July 1)
France (July 1 – 2)
Ukraine (July 3 – 4)
Fiji (July 13 – 14)
United Kingdom (September 16 – 20)
Japan (September 26 – 28)
Cambodia (November 11 – 14)
Indonesia (November 14 – 17)
Thailand (November 17 – 19)
Papua New Guinea (January 12 – 13)
India (March 8 – 11)
United States (March 11 – 14)
Fiji (March 15)
United Kingdom (May 3 – 6)
Japan (May 19 – 21)
Singapore (June 1 – 2)
Vietnam (June 3 – 4)
Germany (July 10)
Lithuania (July 11 – 12)
New Zealand (July 26 – 27)
Indonesia (September 6 – 7)
Phillipines (September 7 – 8)
India (September 9 – 10)
United States (October 23 – 26)
China (November 4 – 7)
Cook Islands (November 8 – 11)
United States (November 15 – 18)
Indonesia (August 31 – September 1)
Singapore (November 13 – 15)
Papua New Guinea (November 17 – 19)
Argentina (November 30 – Dec 2)
Iraq (December 20)
Vanuatu (January 15 – 16)
Fiji (January 17 – 18)
New Zealand (February 22)
New Zealand (March 29)
Solomon Islands (June 2 – 3)
United Kingdom (June 4 – 6)
Singapore (June 7)
Japan (June 27 – 29)
Tuvalu (August 14 – 16)
Vietnam (August 22 – 24)
France (August 24 – 26)
East Timor (August 30 – 31)
United States (September 19 – 27)
Fiji (October 11 – 12)
Indonesia (October 19 – 20)
Thailand (November 3 – 4)
United States (December 16 – 21)
Japan (November 17 – 18)
New Zealand (May 30 – 31)
Singapore (June 10)
United Kingdom (June 11 – 15)
France (June 15)
United States (September 21 – 27)
Italy (October 30 – 31)
United Kingdom (November 1 – 2)
While Mr Albanese’s extensive itinerary has garnered the most attention since Kevin Rudd was dubbed ‘Kevin 747’, evidence suggests he actually jet-sets no more than his predecessors