Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Vicki Wood

Abbott billed taxpayers to compete in ironman event

UPDATE: Prime Minister Tony Abbott has defended his use of taxpayer entitlements to compete in the 2011 Port Macquarie Ironman competition.

Mr Abbott fronted reporters in Bali this morning, to defend his claims for $2100 in taxpayer funds to fly himself and his family to the November 2011 event.

He said he did not just go to marginal seats for sporting events, saying he believed all his claims were "within entitlements".

"I think you'll find there were quite a few other community events in those visits," he said.

But Mr Abbott did not say whether he would consider repaying the claimed entitlements, which also funded a visit to the New South Wales city for members of his family.

A full response to this story has been sought from both the Prime Minister's office and the Department of Finance.

The revelations that Mr Abbott claimed the travel costs for himself and his family to attend the event come a day after the Prime Minister urged his MPs to treat entitlements with caution.

Speaking from Bali on Monday, Mr Abbott said all parliamentarians should "err on the side of caution" when claiming trips and other expenses to the taxpayer.

His comments also come after he decided to pay back about $600 he claimed to attend former MP Peter Slipper's wedding in 2006, a former colleague who Mr Abbott himself pursued over misconduct.

Records kept by the Department of Finance revealed Mr Abbott claimed a total of $2139 to fly both himself and as-yet unidentified members of his family to Port Macquarie, on the same day as the Ironman contest which he competed in.

The documents reveal Mr Abbott claimed one night's "travel allowance", at $349, and $941.10 for three flights to and from the November 2011 event.

But the entitlement returns also show a series of further claims the then-Opposition Leader claimed.

Mr Abbott claimed a further $181 in costs for the use of a Commonwealth car in both Brisbane and Sydney before and after the event.

He also claimed $587.46 in return flights from Sydney to Port Macquarie for family members to attend the event, plus an additional $81.32 in ComCar costs for his family in Sydney on the day of one of the flights.

While the rules around parliamentarians entitlements allow some claims for official business, and for limited family travel, it is unclear whether the claims were within the bounds of the rules.

Response has been sought from both the Prime Minister's Office and the Department of Finance.

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