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Former SA tourism minister set to charge taxpayers for portion of overseas trip

Former SA tourism minister Leon Bignell is set to seek more than $10,000 in expense reimbursements from taxpayers for a trip to the Middle East and Europe.

Key points:

  • Leon Bignell will be seeking to claim back up to $12,000 for an overseas trip
  • Mr Bignell is the chair of SA’s Major Events Attraction Committee 
  • He says it was an important trip to reconnect with contacts

Mr Bignell is not a cabinet minister, but has been appointed chair of the state government’s ‘Major Events Attraction Committee’.

In that capacity he visited multiple events during the European summer in July, including a professional beach volleyball tournament in Switzerland and the Tour de France.

Mr Bignell said he was still finalising the expenses he was seeking to claim back.

“I think it’ll be between $10 to $12,000 dollars. Something like that,” he said. 

In total the trip cost between $35,000 and $40,000.

Mr Bignell said the rest would come from his electoral allowance.

“It’ll be pretty modest in terms of the value for money we get,” he said.

“If you look at one of the events that we are trying to secure out of that, will probably bring in $40 to $80 million.”

Leon Bignell met with President of the Union Cycliste Internationale David Lappartient (second from right) during the trip. (Facebook: Leon Bignell)

The near month-long trip included meetings with senior officials at the Tour de France, cycling’s governing body and rugby’s British & Irish Lions.

“It was a really important trip to get over there and reconnect with a lot of our contacts,” he said.

Shadow Treasurer Matt Cowdrey said it was “highly unusual” for a non-minister to be undertaking a trip like this.

“If it smells like a junket and walks like a junket, these are the sorts of things that really annoy South Australians,” he said.

“The sensible course would be to have a minister, the tourism minister, undertaking these activities on behalf of the state.”

Mr Bignell said in order for big events to come to Adelaide, organisers needed to know where Adelaide was, especially after the pandemic.

“I’ve got to say, sitting down with some of the heads of the federations I had to get the map out and show where Adelaide was,” he said. 

Katrine Hildyard, Hattie Shand and Leon Bignell Sports Minister Katrine Hildyard and Labor MP Leon Bignell pose for a photo with Hockeyroo Hattie Shand. (ABC News)

International hockey to return to Adelaide

The state government has struck a deal with Hockey Australia to bring the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos to play matches against India.

Both sides will play five matches against India, starting with the women’s side in November.

“It’s wonderful that we’ll have the Indian teams here,” Sports Minister Katrine Hildyard said.

“Our South Australian Indian community can be here and enjoy seeing those teams.”

Hockeyroo Hattie Shand, who is originally from Naracoorte in the state’s south-east, said she was looking forward to playing at home.

“It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to play here,” she said.

“It’s where I grew up playing my hockey and I can’t wait to see everyone out here.”

All matches will take place at The Pines at Gepps Cross.

The state government would not say how much the agreement had cost taxpayers, sighting commercial-in-confidence.

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