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Tuesday, 27 March, 2001, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
Fury at Australian Survivor bill
Survivor II logo
The contestants fend for themselves in the outback
The Australian defence minister has demanded an inquiry into how A$300,000 (105,000) of taxpayers' money was spent on flying contestants in a reality TV show to the outback.

Peter Reith said a military aircraft was used to fly the participants of Survivor II: The Australian Outback to remote north-eastern Australia.

"I'm not happy about it. I mean, someone's made a mistake. The mistake they made is a serious mistake," he said.

The flights cost A$16,000 in fuel, but rose to A$300,000 when staff and operational costs were taken into account, he said.

"I am asking for an inquiry... It's a waste of taxpayers' money," he told a Sydney radio station.

Training exercise

Last October, a twin-engined Caribou aeroplane dropped the two teams of contestants in the outback.

A spokesman for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) said they treated the flight as a training exercise, and would still have made a flight if the contestants were not aboard.

"Survivor offered us a realistic exercise of dropping people into a remote area on a tight landing strip which is just what the Caribous are designed for," David Rawlings said.

"However, the minister has now asked for this to be looked at more closely and that's what we will be doing."

Hit with viewers

The series, which is being screened on America's CBS network, hit controversy last month when contestants killed a pig on screen, sparking uproar from animal rights organisations.

The show pulls in almost 30 million viewers a week and features 16 contestants in an inhospitable area where they have to fend for themselves.

Each week a contestant is voted off the show, with the ultimate winner picking up a prize of $1 million.

The first series was US television's biggest-ever summer hit, and a UK version is being developed for ITV.

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See also:

23 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Pig row hits Survivor
19 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Hometown honour for Survivor winner
18 Jun 00 | Americas
Fury at 'tasteless' TV rat barbecue
22 Mar 01 | TV and Radio
US TV viewers face more reality
12 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Reality TV overload
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