MURRAY Valley MP Tim McCurdy has defended three taxpayer-funded overseas trips he took last year as necessary to keeping abreast of opportunities back home.
Mr McCurdy was among the Victorian Parliament politicians named in a Herald Sun report on electorate allowances and travel entitlements yesterday.
He told The Border Mail the trips to Wales and the US were used to look at tiered seating at sporting grounds in small regional communities, something he wanted to bring to Wangaratta.
“I’ve been a big advocate of trying to wrestle the Ovens and Murray grand final from Lavington to Wangaratta,” he said.
“We’ve got the lighting but not really the capacity ... but if you can do tiered seating we can get another 5000 to 10,000 people into the showgrounds, which could attract more (NAB Cup) games and the grand final.”
Mr McCurdy said he also examined irrigation channels in the US, and travelled to New Zealand as part of a Moira Council economic development delegation looking into farming opportunities.
He said it was important to see what communities in other parts of the world were doing — there was no point in “reinventing the wheel” if others had a method.
“I understand some people do see these trips as opportunities for pollies to ‘get away’, but it’s no different to the private sector,” he said.
“You’ve got to be on top of the game and you’ve got to be able to say we can do it better.”
Victorian MPs are entitled to use part of their electorate allowance — used to cover costs like offices, stationery and mailing — for travelling interstate or overseas without parliamentary approval.
Benalla MP Bill Sykes made one trip to Israel, while Labor’s candidate for Northern Victoria and retiring Eltham MP Steve Herbert made trips to the US, Canada and Sri Lanka.