Slipper denies spending spree

WHEN it comes to public money it continues to be up, up and away for Sunshine Coast MP Peter Slipper.

Mr Slipper has again managed to outspend both Federal ministers of the Gillard government and senior members of his own party.

The high-flying LNP Member for Fisher gave taxpayers a bill for $318,267.30 for the second half of 2010.

This compares with $233,500.57 spent by Climate Change and Energy Minister Greg Combet, $232,622.70 by Population Minister Tony Burke, and $275,262.70 racked up by Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson.

It also overshadowed his high-ranking party colleagues Malcolm Turnbull – who spent $210,860.06, Joe Hockey ($250,835.66), and Scott Morrison ($237,853.78).

Even assistant treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation Bill Shorten could not match the controversial assistant Speaker. The $236,770.50 he spent was $81,496.80 short of Mr Slipper’s total.

A Department of Finance report into parliamentarian expenses for the period July 1-December 31, 2010, released on Thursday revealed that Mr Slipper has not curbed his loose ways with the public purse.

He went on ABC Radio yesterday morning to defend news reports that he had spent $31,000 on family travel costs in six months.

Mr Slipper argued that the amount was really only $12,000 for the period with the rest relating to expenses going back to 2009.

However, even at $12,000 for family travel his spending outstripped that of Mr Somlyay ($1267.26), Mr Roy ($657.40) and Wide Bay MP and National Party leader Warren Truss ($7429.59).

It was also more than Mr Hockey ($924.02), Mr Morrision ($1266.21), Mr Shorten ($4699.76), Mr Combet ($961.53), Mr Burke ($5586.38) and Mr Ferguson ($2433.73)

He claimed $10,570.34 for private car expenses compared to Alex Somlyay in Fairfax who presented a bill for only $374.40.

Mr Slipper’s Commonwealth Car bill was $4440.75 (Somlyay $1096.62); hire car, $7579.15 ($3721.40); Cab charge, $8552.32 ($1914.42) and telecommunications $11,884.90 compared with Mr Somlyay’s $5754.78.

In all he spent $318,267.30 in six months compared with $208,404.16 by Mr Somlyay and $209,372.90 by Wide Bay MP and National Party leader Warren Truss.

Mr Roy only spent $69,458.21.

Analysis of Mr Slipper’s air travel for the six months to December 31, 2011, revealed that not only did he fly more frequently than his Coast colleagues, but that his habit of travelling through Sydney rather than direct to Canberra made the exercise more expensive.

Air travel for the MP cost $38,993.12 for domestic travel for the half year compared with Mr Somlyay’s bill of $10,120.76, Mr Roy ($8169.30) and Mr Truss ($30,081.26).

In a statement released to the Daily, Mr Slipper rejected suggestions he had spent more thanothers.

“I don’t believe this to be the case,” he said.

“Different members have different roles and responsibilities that can be reflected in different levels of expenditure.

“My family travel is comparable to other members.

“The actual figure for family travel actually undertaken in the period 31 July to 31 December 2010 is approximately $12,000, being about $10,000 for airfares and the balance for car transport to and from airports.”

He said it was ridiculous to compare his office relocation and fit out with that of Member for Longman Wyatt Roy.

“Wyatt was fortunate to be able to move into an office vacated by Jon Sullivan without major cost,” he said.

“My office fit out was for a vacant premises as a ready made office was not available.

“The Department has now disaggregated office fit out costs from

recurrent spending as Members have little control over the cost of the office fit out.”

Mr Slipper said his trip to a New Zealand wine region was part of a study trip looking at parliamentary and local government systems in both countries.

Asked by the Daily whether he planned to curtail his expenditure in light of the tough times facing people on the Coast, he said:

“Where possible, I always minimise expenditure on ground and air transport on principle.

“However, travel is necessary to carry out my role as Deputy Speaker and Member for Fisher.

“Small business on the Sunshine Coast is the engine room of the economy and the Sunshine Coast Daily might not be aware that it is doing extremely tough. Positive stories on the Coast and what it offers would assist small business.”

WHAT THE MEMBER SAID

Mr Slipper took out a half page advertisement in the Daily to defend his travel expenses after stories in metropolitan media claimed his family travel expenses were higher than Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s.

Mr Slipper claimed he had to take out the advertisement because of bias by the Daily, though this paper has offered him a right of reply after breaking stories on his expenditure over the past year



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