Abbott expenses 'fraudulent' says Latham
Tony Abbott should be charged with fraud after claiming expenses to go to the weddings of Peter Slipper and Sophie Mirabella, says former Labor leader, Mark Latham.PT1M24S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2vo5f 620 349 October 17, 2013
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Labor MP Rob Mitchell has written to the Australian Federal Police to request formal investigations into the alleged misuse of parliamentary entitlements by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Attorney-General George Brandis.
Saying it was "extremely alarming" to see continued reporting of MPs seemingly abusing their taxpayer-funded expense claims, Mr Mitchell urged the AFP to launch an investigation "as a matter of urgency".
Rob Mitchell has asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate Tony Abbott and George Brandis over parliamentary expenses. Photo: Cathy Jackson
The Victorian MP singled out the Prime Minister for what he described as a "systematic" pattern of claims, including about $1700 to attend the weddings of former colleagues Peter Slipper and Sophie Mirabella and billing taxpayers thousands of dollars to compete in a range of sporting events including the Port Macquarie Ironman.
Mr Abbott has since repaid the costs he claimed for both weddings.
"What concerns the Australian public is what appears to be a consistent and deliberate abuse of taxpayer funds for personal gain," Mr Mitchell writes.
Tony Abbott at the wedding of Sophie and Gregory Mirabella, at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Wangaratta in 2006, alongside Bronwyn Bishop and another wedding guest. Photo: Rebecca Hallas
Mr Brandis was singled out for claiming expenses to attend the weddings of Mr Slipper and the former radio presenter Michael Smith – which Mr Brandis has since repaid – and for his $13,000 taxpayer-funded personal library.
Mr Brandis has defended the claims for books as legitimate, saying all acquisitions were ''clearly within the entitlement''.
"Two sets of rules appear to be in play for federal MPs," Mr Mitchell writes.
"Mr Brandis made significant personal effort to ensure police scrutiny and prosecution of a former MP [Peter Slipper] over his alleged false travel entitlement claims."
Mr Mitchell said he needed to have absolute faith in his own expenses to lodge these complaints, given Labor MPs and senators have also been exposed for questionable claims.
These include shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus for a ski trip and South Australian powerbroker Don Farrell for an AFL grand final already funded by a grocery company. Both have reimbursed taxpayers for these claims.
"There's bugger all that I claim," Mr Mitchell told Fairfax Media. "Mine should be extremely tight."
Mr Mitchell said the entitlements rules needed to be "tightened up" and then better enforced.
Pouring over the parliamentary expenses reports with his staff, Mr Mitchell says he is finding ''systematic claims that are not even remotely close to being able to be justified''.
The offices of Mr Abbott and Mr Brandis have been contacted for comment.