BESIEGED Sunshine Coast MP Peter Slipper has defended his massive expenses bill, yesterday saying the more than $640,000 he claimed in the second half of last year is "within guidelines".
It was revealed yesterday that of all the state's MPs, only former prime minister Kevin Rudd claimed more in expenses in the last half of 2009 than the long-serving member of Fisher.
Mr Rudd claimed $1.18 million, with Mr Slipper's $640,562 including $41,483 on vehicle expenses and $15,838 for a 27-day study tour to Argentina and Chile.
To put Mr Slipper's bill into further perspective, Treasurer Wayne Swan's expenses for the same six-month period was $491,236.
Mr Slipper's expenses also dwarf the Sunshine Coast's three other federal MPs.
For the six months to the end of 2009, Member for Fairfax Alex Somlyay claimed $222,454, Member for Longman Jon Sullivan claimed $192,742 and Member for Wide Bay Warren Truss was paid back $205,027.
MPs' claims include costs that were incurred prior to July 1 last year but were paid in the second half of that year, with Mr Slipper's taxi bill of almost $30,000 relating to a 14-month period.
The gaffe-prone MP clocked up $16,038 in taxi fares between July and December last year, and also spent $1764 on reading materials that included Australian Aquarium Keeper and Men's Fitness.
In a statement to the Daily yesterday, Mr Slipper - who has held his seat since 1993 and is the odds-on favourite to triumph again - said his bulk cost last year was the relocation of his office.
It cost taxpayers $525,740 to keep the 60-year-old's electorate office functioning last year.
In a statement to the Daily, Mr Slipper tried to justify his huge expenses bill by highlighting the office relocation cost.
He said it was a one-off expense that was required due to changes in the electorate boundary.
"Other members did not move office during this period," he said.
Chris Cummins, the Labor Party's candidate for Fisher for the upcoming Federal election, accused Mr Slipper of disrespecting taxpayers.
"Public money should be respected, and this is not the first time that these issues have been reported on in relation to Mr Slipper," he said.
But Mr Somlyay, who is known to have an acrimonious relationship with Mr Slipper, defended his LNP colleague.
"Peter, I'm sure, is a member of quite a few standing committees and they meet at different capital cities at different parts of Australia, and all that goes on his bill," he said.
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