RAAF jet takes Mathias Cormann around Europe as he campaigns for OECD job
Mathias Cormann has the support of Mr Morrison and Labor. Photo: Getty Photo: Getty
Just a fortnight into Mathias Cormann’s global campaign to head an international economic body, the former finance minister has clocked up more than 20,000 kilometres on a taxpayer-funded Royal Australian Air Force plane.
Mr Cormann is no longer on the taxpayer purse for his income but he’s being given Government jet-propelled support to become the next Secretary-General of the European-dominated Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
His bid to become the first Australian to head the Paris-based organisation began on November 7-8 with a Canberra-Perth-Muscat leg that included a refuelling stopover in the Maldives.
The RAAF Dassault 7X then flew to Ankara, Turkey, where Mr Cormann began his lobbying in earnest.
Turkey is one of the OECD’s 37 member countries.
From Ankara, Mr Cormann flew five hours north to Copenhagen, Denmark, one of the 19 founding members of the OECD in 1960.
The French, German, Flemish and English speaker had dubbed the OECD one of the most consequential governing bodies in the world, particularly as the world seeks to recover from the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
“These are big challenges and I have accepted this nomination because I believe I can make a real difference,” he said when his candidacy was announced.
The OECD Secretary-General’s job comes with a Euro 232,626 tax-free salary, or the equivalent of $376,900.
On November 12, it was off to Berlin, where Mr Cormann could lobby in a familiar tongue, with Australia’s Ambassador to Germany snapping a photograph of Mr Cormann manning a barbecue during his stopover.
“A bit of downtime over the weekend amid [Mathias Cormann’s] busy visit to Berlin,” Ambassador Philip Green tweeted.
“Time for a BBQ, including Thuringia sausages. Mr Cormann at the tongs, straddling Australian and German culture.”
Mathias Cormann held a barbecue during a stop in Berlin as he campaigned for the top job at the OECD. Photo: Twitter/@AusAmb_DE
The ex-WA senator grew up in a German-speaking region of Belgium.
Three days later, he was off to Bern, Switzerland, for another three days of campaigning.
His diplomatic speed-dating then took him to Ljubljana in Slovenia and then Luxembourg, via Bern.
On November 21, Mr Cormann arrived in Brussels where he once worked as an assistant to Mathieu Grosch, a Belgian Member of the European Parliament.
Brussels is 130 kilometres from Eupen where Mr Cormann was born.
Mathias Cormann is using a RAAF Dassault 7X to assist his campaign. Photo:ABC/Australian Defence Force
Mr Cormann flew from Brussels to Madrid, Spain, taking his two-week travel tally to 21,360km. His plane remains there on Tuesday.
Defence records show flying the RAAF plane costs more than $4000 per hour of flying.
The ABC has contacted the Department of Defence for comment.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison began the diplomatic lobbying effort for Mr Cormann when he hosted OECD ambassadors at The Lodge last month.
Natasha Stott Despoja, another former senator, ran her campaign for a United Nations job almost completely from her home in Adelaide.
Ms Stott Despoja, who had the federal government’s backing, successfully won a spot on a UN committee fighting for equality for women.
She told the Sydney Morning Herald she travelled to Washington in March and Canberra during the pandemic but otherwise campaigned via Zoom from her study, holding about 190 meetings.
Natasha Stott Despoja successfully campaigned for a United Nations role from her study in Adelaide. Photo: ABC/Flickr/Clarissa Villondo