The Australian Government has been criticised for chartering luxury private jets to deliver vaccines to Pacific nations, while some of its fleet of RAAF planes sat idle.
According to a NCA Newswire investigation, Elite Bombardier Global XRS jets were hired from Crown Melbourne to transport a team of emergency disaster responders to Fiji in August at an expense of $US153,671 ($A215,128).
Two flights to Tuvalu filled with AstraZeneca vaccines cost a further $US271,412 ($A379,957).
The flights also assisted with the care of critically-ill patients returning back to Tuvalu in June.
The criticism came from an independent senator who believed taxpayers should not have picked up the extra bills.
However an Australian Government spokesperson explained, “Where scheduled commercial flights are not available, the department works closely with defence to assess the most effective means of transport of passengers and cargo.
“Australia is committed to providing life-saving Covid vaccines and support to manage outbreaks to our partners across the Pacific.
“This may include defence assets or commercial transport depending on Covid-19 protocols, cargo and passenger requirements or ADF operational commitments.”