In a media conference held yesterday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced he had used government entitlements to attend of two weddings in 2006.
While reports have emerged that the PM had already repaid upwards of $1,000 which he had claimed for the wedding of Sophie Mirabella, Mr Abbott today confirmed he had also repaid over $600 during the course of his attendance of Peter Slipper.
Mr Abbott stated it was following the Attorney-General, George Brandis, repayment of over $1,500 of costs incurred for the wedding of radio shock jock, Micheal Smith, two years previously that prompted his recent actions.
In an effort to err on the side of caution, Mr Abbott contacted the Department of Finances following Mr Smith’s wedding confirming his previous claims were legitimate.
Unfortunately for Mr Abbott, officials were not able to conclusively confirm that he was able to claim reimbursements for colleagues weddings and was advised to repay the costs.
At the APEC summit in Bali Mr Abbott told reporters that he thought that he was entitled to act as he had but, was erring on the side of caution due to the doubt of officials.
“I was advised – because I sought advice on this – that the entitlement was unclear and so in order to avoid doubt I paid the relevant money back.
“That’s what people should do: they should act within entitlements, they should err on the side of caution, and, if there is any doubt, they should act immediately to clear the matter up. That’s exactly what I have done.”
The governments Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, recently told ABC’s Insiders program that it is “not uncommon to pay expenses claims back”.
Mr Abbott is one of several politicians who have recently paid back expense claims following concerns voiced by the coalition regarding the validity of Liberal expense accounts.