The travel habits of Anthony Albanese’s beloved dog Toto have come under scrutiny as it’s revealed she has likely been travelling on VIP flights with the Prime Minister.
Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie grilled Air Force Chief Robert Chipman at an intense Senate hearing on Wednesday about Toto’s travels.
‘Could you provide a list of all flights since the 21st of May 2022 on which animals – and specifically an animal called Toto – have been permitted on-board special purpose aircraft?’ she asked.
Mr Chipman confirmed that a pet had been known to travel on the special purpose aircraft primarily used by the Prime Minister for official duties.
‘I am aware that there is a history of VIPs travelling with pets on VIP aircraft,’ he said.
‘(But) we do not keep comprehensive records of when animals travel on VIP aircraft.’
Mr Albanese is pictured with Toto after casting his vote in the federal election
Australia’s First Dog Toto (pictured) is believed to have been travelling with the PM on the special purposes aircraft
Pets on VIP flights do not need to wear a muzzle but need to be restrained in some sort of harness, the air marshal said.
All animals remain the responsibility of the passenger – not the crew or pilot on board.
Senator McKenzie – who recently led a probe into the decision to block more Qatar Airways flights into Australia – sought to find out exactly how many times Toto had been a guest on the plane.
‘Are animals recorded on the flight manifest?’ she asked.
Mr Chipman said it was not standard practice to do so, but there had been occasions when the presence of an animal on a special purpose aircraft was ‘annotated’, so later added to the formal manifest.
‘I have no records of how often [it happens],’ he said.
‘I know we have records to indicate that it has occurred.’
The government has been facing heat over its refusal to release certain details about special purpose flights, citing safety concerns for those on board.
But Ms McKenzie argued there ‘surely’ wouldn’t be such a concern about releasing the identity of pets on board.
Mr Chipman confirmed that a pet had been known to travel on the special purpose aircraft primarily used by the Prime Minister for official duties
Toto is often pictured with the PM, and became a celebrity in her own right during the intense campaigning period ahead of the 2022 election
‘The security coordination committee advice does not go specifically to naming animals on the aircraft,’ Mr Chipman conceded.
But because of the haphazard way in which pet travel is recorded, Mr Chipman was unable to answer a direct question about the number of flights Toto in particular has taken since Mr Albanese became Prime Minister in May 2022.
Toto is often pictured with the Prime Minister, and became a celebrity in her own right during the intense campaigning period ahead of the 2022 election.
The pooch splits her time between her owner’s residences at Kirribilli House in Sydney and The Lodge in Canberra when parliament is sitting.
‘Toto has a particularly brand of dog food, it’s the only one she will eat – yes, she’s a princess,’ the Prime Minister told Nova radio station earlier this year.
The pooch splits her time between her owner’s residences at Kirribilli House in Sydney and The Lodge in Canberra when parliament is sitting