'I've been cleared,' says Slipper

Peter Slipper says he has been cleared by the Department of Finance over his entitlements
Peter Slipper says he has been cleared by the Department of Finance over his entitlements Brett Wortman

THE Sunshine Coast's biggest spending MP says an official investigation has cleared him of any wrongdoing in relation to his entitlements.

A statement from Mr Slipper's office today said: "The Federal Department of Finance and Deregulation has cleared Member for Fisher and now House Speaker Peter Slipper of any wrongdoing linked to his entitlement spending and has concluded its investigation.''

"A complaint was received with respect to Mr Slipper's spending for the period 01 Jul - 31 Dec 2009 and in accordance with the usual protocol the matter was investigated.

"While it has been hurtful to my family and me to read constantly in the media that I was 'under investigation', I am pleased that as expected my spending has been found to be invorder" Mr Slipper said in the statement.

The Daily lodged an official complaint and launched a petition amid outrage over his hefty travel and office expense bills.

Investigations by the Daily uncovered a pattern of travel which saw the MP going to Canberra via Sydney, racking up thousands of dollars in plane and cab fares.

Mr Slipper has repeatedly failed to provide details of the purposes of his travel nor the public benefit of it.

He has simply instead maintained that his travel was in according to electorate and parliamentary business.

In his statement today, he said he was a "strong supporter of openness and transparency where public money is concerned.''

After a series of reports in the Daily, national media picked up the story about Mr Slipper's expenses, particularly after he took the job of Speaker.

The Australian reported last November how Mr Slipper's travel and office expenses had totalled $1.8 million since 2007, including regular $280 taxi trips between Brisbane airport and his home on the Sunshine Coast.

Between January 1 and June 30 last year, he spent an average of $1073 a day on airfares, taxis, commonwealth cars and office supplies.

That compared with $579.40 a day for South Australian independent senator Nick Xenophon.

Mr Slipper said in his statement today he has now put the matter behind him.

"He is now looking forward to continuing to be an effective Member for Fisher and Independent Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Westminster tradition,'' the statement said.

The Daily is seeking a full copy of the Department of Finance and Deregulation's findings.

Editor in chief Mark Furler said the Daily would also continue to pursue an outcome from its petition, signed by thousands of Coast residents, which called for greater accountability among all MPs on their spending.

"Unfortunately, we have a system in place where MPs are checking off their own expenses,'' Mr Furler said.

"Clearly that is not acceptable and we should not have to rely on audits of MPs or external investigations to reveal improper spending.''

Mr Slipper has previously been ordered to pay back thousands of dollars in entitlements he has wrongly claimed.

Topics:  peter slipper spending travel

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