The office of Riverina MP Michael McCormack has defended a taxpayer-funded private jet flight from Wagga to the Melbourne Cup as a standard security measure for an acting Prime Minister.
Mr McCormack has faced criticism over using public funds to fly to last year's cup day and marquee event as guests of gambling group Tabcorp.
The resulting travel bill to taxpayers, including thousands of dollars per hour for an Air Force VIP jet, failed to past the 'pub test' among many of Wagga's lunchtime patrons.
Heinz Schulz at the William Farrer Hotel said politicians should pay for their own trips to events like the Melbourne Cup.
"They should pay for it as they make more money than you or I together," he said.
Matthew Nixon also said politicians should pay for travel to the Melbourne Cup.
"They get to have all other kinds of flights and accommodation paid for," he said.
Tim Abbott at the Riverina Hotel said the system of travel entitlements was the bigger problem.
"I'm sure [Mr McCormack] would have followed the rules," he said.
"He would have made sure to meet people when he was there as that's what all the politicians do.
"One flight is small change compared to the largesse at The Lodge."
Mr McCormack was acting Prime Minister until 10am on the day of the Melbourne Cup, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison returned to Sydney following a trip to Thailand.
Mr McCormack as Deputy Prime Minister left Melbourne via a commercial flight, which was also billed to taxpayers as well as his wife's flight back to Wagga.
A spokesperson for the Deputy Prime Minister said he "travels in accordance with the guidelines set by the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA)".
"IPEA has confirmed the DPM's Parliamentary and Ministerial work in Melbourne, when he was Acting Prime Minister from 3 to 5 November 2019, accompanied by Mrs McCormack, adheres to the guidelines," the spokesperson said.
Charles Sturt University associate professor in political science Dominic O'Sullivan said the private jet flight was a "bad look" but it was unlikely that the opposition would pursue the issue as the expenses probably could fit within the rules.
"Do the voters care? I don't really think so," he said.