Travel Agents

Alleged whistleblowers under investigation over finance minister’s Helloworld freebie

An investigation has been launched into two people suspected to have blown the whistle on Helloworld allegedly giving free flights to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

The Sydney Morning Herald revealed detectives from Victoria Police’s Crime Command sought to question two former Helloworld staff members last Wednesday morning about whether they uncovered Cormann’s freebie.

The Herald and the Age published allegations in February about how the Senator and his family received free flights from the company in 2017 just months before it won a $1 billion travel contract with Cormann’s department.

Cormann, who booked the flights directly through Helloworld CEO and the Liberal party’s federal treasurer at the time, Andrew Burnes, has since paid the $2,780.82 bill.

The newspapers also raised questions over whether the Australian ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, used his position to help the company win the contract.

According to the Herald, the police investigation aims to uncover the person who found out about Cormann’s unpaid bill and find out whether it involved unlawful access to the company’s information by staff.

Corman denied involvement in the investigation into the alleged whistleblowers during an interview with Sky News on Friday.

“Me? I have not had any involvement with that whatsoever,” he said.

“I was unaware that this particular squad was involved.

“I don’t think that anyone can credibly suggest that the squad in Victoria, Labor jurisdiction, would be doing anything at the behest of a Commonwealth minister.”

He also denied receiving free travel from Helloworld, claiming the invoice was simply not processed correctly.

“I booked travel, I supplied my credit card expecting obviously that the payment would be processed,” he said.

“When it wasn’t processed, what I would have expected staff to do that became aware of that would be to either process the payment with the credit card details that were provided for that purpose or if there was any outstanding invoice and credit card payment couldn’t be processed, to chase me for it.”

Cormann also said he booked directly with Burnes for privacy reasons and to avoid walking into a travel agency, however, he couldn’t explain why he didn’t just book the flights online.

Travel Weekly has approached Helloworld for comment.

Featured image credit: ABC News: Matt Roberts

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