George Brandis
Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Panjaitan (R) shakes hands with Australia's Attorney-General George Brandis before a meeting at the Political, Legal, and Security Ministry office in Jakarta, December 21, 2015. Reuters/Beawiharta

Federal Attorney General George Brandis and his son visited remote western Queensland last year, a trip that was apparently funded by taxpayers’ money. They reportedly went on the trip to know more about their connections to the region.

Brandis visited Quilpie and Charleville in September by chartering his own plane. The cost of the trip – which included the attorney general, his son and a staff member – has been estimated to be $12,000. Brandis also covered the cost of the accommodation for his son.

According to the Australian, Quilpie Mayor Stuart Mac­kenzie had made the arrangements for Brandis to meet with the opal miners and open the Quilpie and District Show and Rodeo. “Once we were told he was coming, he was invited to open the local show that weekend and we organised meetings,’’ Mackenzie said.

MacKenzie also said his understanding of Brandis’ visit was the latter’s “family connections to the area.” MacKenzie added, “It’s why he came to Quilpie rather than somewhere else in the west.’’

However, Brandis has dismissed the claims that he took a trip to the region to explore his family heritage. The purpose of the visit, Brandis said, “was to visit Quilpie and open the show and have meetings with constituents arranged by the local federal and state MPs.” He said he was not aware how much the trip cost in total. Details for the same are expected to be released in expense claim disclosures later this year.

Last year, a national security committee meeting had forced Brandis to cancel a trip to Quilpie. He had been invited to the region to open the Quilpie show.

Brandis is one of three government ministers who attended the 2015 New Year’s Eve event hosted by the prime minister on taxpayers’ money. The other three ministers were Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield.