Former parliamentary speaker Peter Slipper used a government-issued Cabcharge card to pay for trips to leading wineries in the Canberra region, court documents allege.
A summons document in the ACT Magistrates Court alleges that on three occasions in 2010, Mr Slipper took a hire car to visit wineries that included the top-rated Clonakilla winery, well known for its $85 Shiraz Viognier.
On one trip in January 2010, Mr Slipper travelled from Parliament House to six wineries before taking the hire car to his home suburb of Hughes.
They included Poachers Pantry, which is famous in the Canberra region for its gourmet smoked meats, as well as its winery.
According to the documents, Mr Slipper stopped at and visited each of the six wineries, which also include Doonkuna Winery, Yass Valley Wines, Shaw Estate Vineyard and Gallagher Wines.
''Mr Slipper knew that he was not entitled to use the Cabcharge card to pay for the hire car fare, but he did so,'' the description of offences says. The former speaker - who resigned from the position last October - allegedly used the card by filling in and signing four Cabcharge dockets instead of one.
''He filled in the trip details on the dockets by showing false information,'' including the pick up and put down locations and the amount of the fare. The documents further allege that Mr Slipper travelled to wineries again in April and June 2010.
The trips described in the documents, including some within Canberra, cost $1194.
MPs can travel at government expense only if they are undertaking "parliamentary, electorate or official business". Official business includes "meetings of a government advisory committee or taskforce" or "functions representing a minister or presiding officer".
The documents say that the Department of Finance informed Mr Slipper on three separate occasions between 2006 and 2007 that electronic and not manual Cabcharge vouchers should be used, as they were more accountable and secure.
It alleges that Mr Slipper continued to use Cabcharge vouchers because he wanted to avoid investigation by Finance about his card use.
Slipper summonsed to appear before court
On Monday, Mr Slipper was summonsed to face court next month for alleged breaches of federal criminal laws, further destabilising Julia Gillard's minority government in an election year.
The police statement said it was ''in relation to three offences of dishonestly causing a risk of a loss to the Commonwealth''.
The Queensland MP is due to appear in the Canberra Magistrates Court on February 15, where he can expect to be formally charged.
The Australian Federal Police have not confirmed what the summons is about, but court documents show that they relate to Mr Slipper's alleged misuse of travel entitlements. The alleged offences carry a maximum five-year jail term.
If Mr Slipper is found guilty of the alleged Cabcharge fraud he could go to jail, despite the fact that the amount of money involved is relatively small, says the Canberra criminal lawyer Ben Aulich.
''If the allegations are proven against him, I could not rule out a jail term as a sentence,'' said Mr Aulich after reading the court summons for Mr Slipper released on Tuesday by the ACT Magistrates Court.
''These sorts of matters are very serious... Anything to do with a fraud on the Commonwealth involving a breach of a position of trust in a systematic way, the first port of call is a jail term.''
If a federal MP is found guilty of a criminal offence that carries a jail term of one year or more, they are disqualified from Parliament.
This could place the government's slim majority under pressure on contentious pieces of legislation, but would not likely see it fall.
Labor has 76 votes to the Coalition's 74 (if Green Adam Bandt, independents Craig Thomson, Andrew Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor are counted with Labor and Bob Katter, Tony Crook and Peter Slipper are counted with the opposition).
However, Fairfax Media understands that even if found guilty, Mr Slipper is very unlikely to face the maximum penalty. It is also unlikely the case would be resolved before the next federal election.
On Monday, a government source played down the news of the summons, saying the offences mentioned by the AFP did not relate to claims made by former staffer, James Ashby, but to the alleged hire-care trips beyond the allowed Canberra region.
Not the first set of Cabcharge claims
Mr Slipper stood aside as Speaker last April following accusations by Mr Ashby that he had misused taxi dockets, as well as separate claims that he had sexually harassed Mr Ashby.
Mr Ashby alleged that his former boss had rorted his travel entitlements by handing over signed blank Cabcharge vouchers to drivers. Mr Slipper later released photocopies of the 13 manual dockets in a bid to refute claims.
Dates on some of the copied vouchers were not legible, and the pick-up and drop-off descriptions tended to be vague, using terms such as "suburbs", "city" and "airport". None of the dockets appeared to specify what time Mr Slipper was in the vehicle.
At the time, Mr Slipper said that the ''so-called criminal allegation'' of Cabcharge rorts was a ''complete fabrication''.
In May, Mr Ashby dropped the travel rorts claims to avoid any delay in the court's consideration of his civil claim of sexual harassment and discrimination.
But by then, the AFP had launched an investigation into Mr Slipper's travel use, referring material from the matter to the Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions in July.
Abbott: Slipper development shows Gillard's lack of judgment.
A spokesman for Attorney-General Nicola Roxon on Monday said Mr Slipper was entitled to the presumption of innocence, and prejudicial comment had to be avoided to ensure he got a fair trial. Last month, the Federal Court threw out Mr Ashby's sexual harassment claim. In a scathing judgment, Justice Steve Rares found that the case was an ''abuse of process''.
In Brisbane on Tuesday, before the court documents were public, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the latest development involving Mr Slipper again exposed Prime Minister Julia Gillard's lack of judgment.
"Why did the Prime Minister ever think that the gentleman in question was fit and proper to be the Speaker of our country?" had said.
Mr Abbott said it was up to Mr Slipper to decide if he should resign from the parliament.
Fairfax Media has attempted to contact Mr Slipper without success.
Police visited local winery
The owner of Gallagher Wines, Gregory Gallagher, said police visited him "sometime last year" to investigate transactions made by Peter Slipper at his winery.
Mr Gallagher said he does not remember meeting Mr Slipper but commended his good taste in wine.
On his January 2010 tour of Clonakilla Wines, Mr Slipper would have sampled a range of 2008 reds including the Shiraz Viognier, O'Riada and Hilltops and a range of white wines including the Clonakilla Riesling, according to David Reist, the sales and marketing manager at Clonakilla.
Mr Riest says he does not recall meeting Mr Slipper but adds "he was not so well known back then".