Slipper expense report buried
SUNSHINE Coast MP Peter Slipper has declared himself in the clear after an official investigation into his huge travel and office expense claims for one six-month period three years ago.
But yesterday the Department of Finance, which conducted the probe, would not confirm Mr Slipper had been cleared at all, saying only that its investigation had been completed.
Mr Slipper issued a press release saying: "I am pleased that as expected my spending has been found to be in order.''
However, Mr Slipper, who has racked up $1.8 million in travel and office expenses since 2007, was unable to provide any written advice from the department confirming he had been cleared.
His office said it was normal protocol that there was no written advice provided to the complainant.
The Daily lodged a complaint regarding Mr Slipper's expenses from July 1 to December 31, 2009, after public outrage over his claims.
The department refused to divulge any details of the nature of its investigation, instead only issuing a brief statement.
"Finance has concluded its examination of Mr Slipper's travel entitlement claims for the period 1 July to 31 December 2009, which was handled in accordance with the Protocol Followed when an Allegation is Received of Alleged Misuse of Entitlement by a Member or Senator (the Protocol).
"Details of the outcome of matters dealt with under the Protocol are not made publicly available," the statement said.
LNP Member for Fairfax Alex Somlyay said the investigation had not scratched the surface.
He said Special Minister of State Gary Gray should answer in parliament for the lack of transparency shown by the department.
Mr Somlyay confirmed that the Sunshine Coast Daily petition calling for a full audit of Mr Slipper's expense claims for the past 10 years overseen by the National Audit Office still had to be dealt with by the parliament's petitions committee.
The petition asks that the Member for Fisher be required to detail the parliamentary and electoral business that justified entitlement claims that included more than $1000 for taxis on a single day.
Mr Somlyay said Mr Slipper would not object to that process if he was confident he would be cleared.
He said his former LNP colleague should also explain why he has had to repay so many expense claims during the past decade.
Mr Slipper has repeatedly ignored offers from the Daily to open his diary to explain the schedule of parliamentary and electoral business that led to him claiming for more than $6000 worth of expenses in a 15-day period when parliament was not sitting.
In one five-day period between July 23 and July 28 his bill for air fares totalled $2174.24 and ground transport $2841.26.
Included in that total was a $903.36 Com Car and taxi bill for July 26, 2009. On July 28 of that year he spent $1033.06 on air fares and $605.21 on taxis.
Daily editor in chief Mark Furler said the newspaper would 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.
ARE THESE EXPENSES OKAY?
- $5000 plus on planes and taxis during five days when parliament did not sit
- $903.36 in cab fares in a single day on July 26, 2009
- $1033.06 in air fares and $605.21 on taxis on July 28, 2009
- $1.8 million in travel and office expenses since 2007