EMBATTLED MP Peter Slipper, who is under investigation over his latest expense claims, has had to pay back more than $15,000 to the Department of Finance after previous claims were ruled invalid.
A Freedom of Information request by the Sunshine Coast Daily has identified that Mr Slipper was required to return money relating to 17 incidences of over-claiming in the 10 years from October, 1999, to October, last year.
The repayments related to overspending on newsletters, personalised stationery and other printed material, the recovery of transport costs, overspending of his staff travel budget entitlements, the recovery of the difference between business and economy fares for family travel, and the recovery of money for family travel claimed outside his entitlements.
“I consider my situation is similar to that of many other members who have paid moneys to Finance sometimes voluntarily,” Mr Slipper said yesterday.
“My payments have largely related to honest differences in interpretation of entitlements applicable at various times and also in relation to an anomaly concerning car transport which has now been rectified by the Remuneration Tribunal given the inequity of the situation.”
Mr Slipper has this year refused to explain, beyond the claim that the expenses were incurred on parliamentary and electorate duties, why he spent nearly $12,000 in one 30-day period in the second half of last year on cab fares and Com cars.
In total he spent $16,038.75 in six months on taxi fares alone.
His expense claims were the central subject, along with his decision to accept Labor’s nomination for the position of deputy speaker, at the LNP’s Sunshine Coast zone post budget meeting last weekend.
Mr Slipper’s expenses for the period July 1 to December 31 are now being audited by the Department of Finance under protocols that deal with complaints about potential abuse of expenses by parliamentarians.
Those protocols protect the MP from public disclosure of the results of such an inquiry and whether or not the matter has been referred to the Australian Federal Police.
Information obtained from the Department of Finance shows that in October last year Mr Slipper was required to repay $3311.21 he had overspent from his electorate staff travel period during the six-month period to June 30, last year.
In October, 2007, the department recovered from Mr Slipper $1708 in excessive car transport for the period from January 1, 2006, to September 7 that year.
In July of that year he was also required to repay $1280.06 in family travel fares he had taken outside the entitlements.
Seven months earlier, in December, 2006, the Member for Fisher also repaid $3178.15 in excessive car transport claims for the period from November, 2004, to December, 2005.
Indiscretions dating back to 2002 included $5079.40 worth of family travel taken outside the entitlements which he repaid in April, 2003, relating to journeys taken from July, 2002, to March, 2003.
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