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Dutton's $1k limo ride: ComCar left outside Coast fundraiser

FEDERAL Immigration Minister Peter Dutton spent almost $1000 in a single day having the government's limousine service ferry him around the Sunshine Coast, instead of using his own car or getting one of his numerous staffers to give him a lift.

Mr Dutton also refused to answer questions on whether he felt he operated within the spirit of the rules surrounding MP's expenses by having a ComCar wait for him while he attended a Liberal Party function on the day in question.

The $956.30 ComCar claim was the largest filed by Mr Dutton and larger than any car service claim filed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during the most recent round of expenses disclosed.  

ComCars charge at a rate of $78.60 an hour meaning Mr Dutton used the car service for more than 12 hours that day.

When the claim was queried with Mr Dutton's office a spokeswoman said: "Mr Dutton travelled from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast for several community round table meetings, a meeting with the Mayor, consultations with individuals and to make an announcement regarding the future of the Sunshine Coast Airport."

A subsequent search of Mr Dutton's press releases confirmed he announced federal funding for improved security at Sunshine Coast Airport, with the then Liberal candidate for the seat of Fairfax Ted O'Brien, on the day in question, Friday February 5, 2016.

However there were no releases relating to any other announcements or events.

A search of Mr Dutton's social media returned a similar result, however, the Facebook account of state Liberal MP for Buderim, Steve Dickson shows what Mr Dutton got up to that evening.

"Welcoming the Hon Peter Dutton back to the Sunshine Coast with Ted O'Brien at Red Sea Rock Steak and Seafood," Mr Dickson posted at 7pm - along with a photo of the trio outside the Ocean St eatery.

Fairfax Liberal MP Ted O'Brien shared the same post three days later saying: "A great night with Peter Dutton at Red Sea Steak and Seafood Restaurant in Maroochydore last Friday."

Ted O'Brien's Facebook post
Ted O'Brien's Facebook post

Today Mr Dutton declined to answer questions on what the event entailed, however, the owner of the now closed restaurant, Neil Deakin, described it as a Liberal Party event.

"It was a launch thing for their campaign," Mr Deakin said.

"There were about 90 people there."

Liberal sources have since confirmed the event was a party fundraiser.

In 2015 then Speaker Bronwyn Bishop was forced to resign after it emerged she had charged the taxpayer more than $6000 to charter a chopper to a Liberal Party function.

A subsequent review of MP's entitlements, completed in February 2016, recommended clarifying the rules so expenses couldn't be claimed for party fundraisers.

The findings of the review are yet to be made law - despite the tribunal which considers entitlements directing MPs to them when it handed down its most recent finding. 

Topics:  editors picks expenses liberal maroochydore peter dutton sunshine coast


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