Qld MP denies doing a 'runner'


QUEENSLAND Liberal National Party (LNP) MP Ray Stevens has denied claims he and a colleague did a "runner" from a Cairns restaurant without paying a bill.

The LNP says it will now spell out rules for dining-out, after two dinners during a regional parliament sitting ended in embarrassing public disputes.

Earlier this week Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg was forced to dismiss a report that Mr Stevens and colleague Ray Hopper had a public spat over a bill at a Cairns restaurant two weeks ago.

The Cairns Post reported on Thursday that a dinner at another restaurant on the previous night also ended badly.

The Cairns Post said two LNP members one Mr Stevens and the other unidentified who remained after a late dinner of about 20 MPs asked for two more beers to be put on the bill, and left without paying.

The men were 200 metres down the road when staff caught them and asked them to pay, the newspaper said.

Mr Stevens on Thursday told reporters that when the outstanding amount of about $10 to $20 came to his attention, he finalised the bill.

He said it was not a boozy night, no one left the restaurant intoxicated, and he was only 50m out of the building when staff called him back.

"I'm sorry if there are any people's noses put out of joint by the issue but we were just out on a quiet celebratory night that started very late and of course then finished in the early hours of the morning," Mr Stevens said.

"Absolutely no runner or a bolter or anything, as I say, I've been in the restaurant business for 10 years.

"I actually tipped the little Spanish waiter while I was there on the night a $5 cash tip."

Mr Stevens said he probably ended up out of pocket after the two bill incidents.

"I remember I sort of lost some money out of going to Cairns, but that's OK, it's all part and parcel of the bonhomie we have to build," he joked.

Mr Springborg had now put rules in place to stop future arguments over bills, which included a central point of payment, he said.

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