Scott Morrison has defended using public money to fly former finance minister Mathias Cormann around Europe.
Mr Cormann has traversed the continent on a Royal Australian Air Force plane as he campaigns for a job with a global economic think tank.
The RAAF plane costs taxpayers more than $4000 per hour of flying.
The prime minister said the jet was being used because coronavirus was “running rampant” across Europe.
“There really wasn’t the practical option to use commercial flights in the time we had available because of COVID,” he told 2GB radio on Wednesday.
“If Mathias was flying around on commercial planes, he would have got COVID. The risk of that was extremely high.”
Mr Morrison also justified the costly flights by arguing an Australian had never held a leadership role at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, more commonly known as the OECD.
“Now we’re in the race for it and it will be very important,” he said.
“Mathias would be an outstanding secretary-general of the OECD, standing up for those liberal, democratic, market-based values which the OECD represents.”