October 23, 2008 12:00am
POLICE chief Christine Nixon has defended taking a free luxury trip to Los Angeles worth tens of thousands of dollars.
The Chief Commissioner and her husband, Mr John Becquet, a former Qantas executive, flew from Melbourne on Monday as VIP guests of the airline on the inaugural flight of its A380 airbus to Los Angeles.
The trip would normally cost a couple more than $30,000 in airfares alone, but Ms Nixon said she did not feel it was inappropriate for her to accept the all-expenses paid junket.
"I thought about what people might think but I have to say I don't think in any way I've been compromised," she said.
"I am on holidays for just three days . . . I haven't had a holiday for maybe 12 months.
"We've been asked to be part of an amazing event -- the plane was just magnificent."
Ms Nixon and her husband have enjoyed star treatment since arriving on Tuesday.
They were greeted by stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John and have enjoyed free accommodation at the Sofitel in Beverly Hills, cocktail parties and private tours of galleries and museums.
Qantas business class airfares run to more than $16,000 a person, while first class costs more than $20,000. Standard luxury rooms at the Sofitel -- described as Los Angeles city's hottest new destination -- start above $500 a night.
Police Minister Bob Cameron last night declined to comment on whether he supported Ms Nixon taking the free trip.
He said through a spokeswoman: "The Chief Commissioner advised the minister that she was taking personal leave to accompany her husband on a trip to the US."
But Mr Becquet, who was in charge of Qantas crew operations and was involved in the 747 launch in Australia in the '70s, said his wife deserved time off.
"At the end of the day, we are entitled to a life," he said.
"I find it kind of bizarre that this question gets asked and she's had a three-day holiday."
Mr Becquet said the couple, who celebrate their 16th anniversary tomorrow, were invited to LA after a chance meeting with a Qantas executive. "I am normally her handbag but on this she's my handbag," he said.
Ms Nixon, whose contract as police chief expires in April, would not say whether she wanted to stay in the job.
"I've had some discussions so far but it's really not been finalised," she said.
While in LA the couple attended an exclusive cocktail party at a multi-million-dollar private home in Los Angeles and visited the Getty Centre.