How to spend $1M a month on flights? Our politicians know.

The recent scandals about how our (Australia’s) federal politicians spend our money on travel, got me thinking. “What is the story behind their travel? Is there publicly available information out there about their flights?”

After a few days of sorting through data and working out a way to visualise it, we created what we have called Poli Flight

It is an interactive data visualisation that maps all the domestic flights taken on non-chartered aircraft by our federal politicians over the last reported period which happens to be second half of 2014. Note: 2015 data is still to be released.

Not only does the visualisation track the flights, it also calculates the total amount of money spent on the flights, the number of kilometres travelled, and has a auto-updating Leaderboard. Yes, you can see how the politicians compete over time on how much money they are spending on flights.

Interesting facts

While the story is not yet complete, here are some interesting facts that we found.

  • During the 6 month period of 1st July – 31st Dec 2014:
  • $5.9M was spent on domestic scheduled flights (just under $1M / month)
  • Just over 10,000 flights were taken by 235 politicians
  • Our politicians covered just over 11,000,000 km’s in the air (just under 50,000 km’s per politician)
  • The average flight costs around $580
  • West Australian Senator Rachel Siewert topped the Leaderboard spending over $77k in the six month period
  • The Sydney to Canberra sector accounted for almost 1,500 flights (almost 11 flights per weekday)


The website also contains functions to be able to search the data and display the results. After searching you can share the results by copying the url and emailing it to someone.

Search examples

Here are some interesting searches:

Why did we do this?

A large part of our work involves working with large data sets of some of Australia’s largest corporations. We have to search through the data, which is often in text / pdf files or poorly formatted, to be able to create the story behind the data. Our job is to find how organisations are spending their money with their suppliers and develop more cost effective methods that also generate better outcomes.

We believe that the world is visual and it is easier to understand the data when it is displayed visually and in a meaningful way.

While we can’t (and will not) disclose our client’s data, we often challenge ourselves to display publicly available in the hope that it can provide others with some insights that our clients often get the benefit of.

Other visualisations

If you are interested in seeing some of our other visualisations, please click on the following.

Australia’s Top 10 Government Contracts

Australia’s Top 10 Government Contracts

Spend Data Visualisation - Queensland Government Contracts

Where does $2.8B in Qld Gov. Contracts Go?


More information

For more information, please contact me (Simon Thompson) at

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