DFAT sends 23 staff to Paris to learn about saving money

IS it possible that sometimes you need to spend money to save money?

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade seems to hope so, after it sent 23 officers from Canberra to Paris to attend a department pow-wow about being more thrifty.

They were flown on business class return travel.

Fairfax reports that while DFAT has not confirmed the cost of the flights, it estimates that the flights alone cost at least $175,000, and that's assuming the department booked the cheapest possible flights.

The group stayed in the four-star Mercure Paris Centre Eiffel Tower Hotel, where even basic rooms start at $530 per night.

Fairfax estimates the total cost for the two-day trip cost taxpayers about $215,000, so officers could be taught by Australia's ambassador to France Stephen Brady.

There is no indication as to why the lessons could not have been taught by video conferencing.

A DFAT spokeswoman has said because the event included a majority of staff based in Europe, holding it in Paris was cheaper than holding the conference in Australia.

The September jaunt for Australian public servants is likely to jar with taxpayers who on Tuesday were told not to expect a wage increase any time soon.

Worker wages in the past 12 months increased by only 2%, the lowest ever seen since the data collection began in the late 1990s.

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