Minister defends $90,000, 8-day trip to US, Canada
EDUCATION Minister Sarah Mitchell spent $90,000 on an eight day research trip to the US and Canada to learn from their "very similar education systems" and visit a school every day.
The trip for Ms Mitchell and two staff members will be a key target of a fresh Labor assault on wasteful government spending launching today.
Labor will accuse multiple government ministers of taking "post-election holidays" after a series of ministers have jetted off on short but very expensive foreign research missions since the March election win.
Ministers who have posted reports on taxpayer funded international trips since the election include Arts Minister Don Harwin to London, Deputy Premier John Barilaro to the USA, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and tourism Minister Stuart Ayres to the UK and Germany, Health Minister Brad Hazzard to Sweden, Norway and Denmark and Transport Minister Andrew Constance to Europe.
In what they will dub the "rort report", the Labor analysis will question what the government achieves on these trips.
Labor upper house MP Rose Jackson, who will launch the report said Ms Mitchell's trip was "basically invisible" and said there had been "not one speech to parliament, not one media statement" to explain it.
"The taxpayers should expect more of a return on a $90,000 investment."
Asked if the Minister had made any speeches to parliament on the trip or issued media statements, the Minister's office did not directly address the question.
However, Ms Mitchell did defend her trip, saying; "I have been upfront that results in NSW need to improve, which is why earlier this year I visited the United States and Canada on my first overseas trip as a Minister," she said.
The online report outlining the mission shows Ms Mitchell's trip involved observing schools in the District of Columbia and New Jersey in the US and Toronto and Vancouver in Canada.
Each Minister files a report online outlining the cost and itinerary for their trip and Ms Mitchell's is just one of a string of expensive foreign missions. These trips have been a long standing fixture of government and Ministers are urged to justify their expenses in as much detail as possible.
Ms Mitchell's report shows she spent $48,212 on the cost of flights alone for herself and a staffer.
A further $24,096 was spent on a department official's travel.
In addition, more than $10,000 was spent on the group's accommodation expenses.
The total trip cost $57,822 for Ms Mitchell and her staffer, plus an extra $31,939 for the government official - more than $10,000 a day for the three of them.
The official report for the trip says the purpose was to gain a "first hand understanding of the operations, mechanisms, and organisations of other large education systems that are pursuing both excellence and equity".
In a statement to The Daily Telegraph, Ms Mitchell said: "The US and particularly Canada have very similar education systems to ours and have seen significant improvements in their results that NSW can learn from.
"Following the trip we have renewed our focus on maths, based on a similar approach in Canada. "We are also working on policy reform in rural and remote education, Aboriginal education and early childhood learning."
The Daily Telegraph has been told Ms Mitchell was attracted to visiting schools in Canada because the country's education results significantly outperform those of NSW and offered an unashamed focus on literacy and numeracy in early years.