The launch of the HERMES instrument at the AAO’s telescope at Siding Spring was part of a chartered flight that cost Australian tax payers $13, 170. Ian Macfarlane, Federal Minister for Industry and Science chartered a flight from Canberra to Coonabarabran, then Coonabarabran to Sydney, to be at the opening. Politician’s travel expenses, particularly chartered fights are under heavy media scrutiny due to a $5000 helicopter flight taken by the Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop.

To put the amount into perspective, the flight would have funded 1/4 of the money needed to pay the only professional astronomer in the southern hemisphere who was identifying and tracking potentially earth destroying asteroids (Robert McNaught Uppsala Telescope Siding Spring) . His project was closed down last year when funds to match the USA contribution to the project were not forthcoming from the ANU.




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