Slipper staff member used fuel card in 'inappropriate' way

Former Speaker Peter Slipper.
Former Speaker Peter Slipper. Warren Lynam

SUNSHINE Coast MP Peter Slipper had to "counsel" a staff member in 2010 for "totally inappropriate" use of his parliamentary fuel card.

Documents released by the Department of Finance and Deregulation under Freedom of Information laws reveal an unidentified member of Mr Slipper's staff repaid more than $500 after the department uncovered "possible anomalies associated with fuel transactions".

>>See the documents here

Department secretary David Tune wrote to Mr Slipper, who was still a member of the Liberal Party, in March 2010 seeking an explanation for the anomalies, which involved "apparent high quantity refuelling on the same day, sometimes within relatively short periods of time".

A "high level committee" within the department charged with investigating misuses of parliamentary entitlements found 15 occasions in 2008 and 2009 where Mr Slipper's fuel card was used on the same day.

For example, on November 6, 2009, Mr Slipper's card was used to buy 53 litres of fuel at the Glasshouse Mountains Mobil Service Station five minutes after it was used to purchase 61 litres in Buderim, close to 30km away.

In his reply later in March Mr Slipper admitted to being "surprised" by the contents of Mr Tune's letter, writing it was the first he had heard of the "irregularities".

"I have always used my fuel card appropriately," Mr Slipper wrote.

The Member for Fisher indicated the staff member admitted to using the fuel card without the MP's knowledge.

He wrote the staff member was under the impression the card could be used because their vehicle was being used "for purposes associated with the office".

"I have advised the staff member that this was totally inappropriate, provided counsel and the staff member immediately volunteered reimbursement," he wrote.

Mr Slipper conceded eight of the 15 anomalies flagged by the department were "outside entitlement" and enclosed a cheque for $521.63,.

He argued the other instances were within the rules because his car was used extensively on the days in question.

In another document released under FoI it was revealed Mr Slipper, as Parliamentary Speaker, received a legitimate entitlement of $5236.46 as part of a month-long overseas trip to seven countries in March-April last year.

The documents show Mr Slipper's five-night stay at the Sheraton in Kampala, Uganda, came in at $5082, or more than $1000 per night.

FOI documents

Topics:  editors picks freedom of information peter slipper

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