Somlyay to table Slipper petitions
SUNSHINE Coast MP Alex Somlyay will take petitions calling for an investigation into Peter Slipper's travel expenses to Canberra, saying it provides his LNP colleague a chance to clear the air.
Daily editor in chief Mark Furler presented the petitions, signed by more than 2700 Coast residents, to the Maroochydore-based MP yesterday afternoon.
Mr Somlyay said he was obliged to take the petitions to Canberra, adding that in 20 years as an MP he had never refused to do so.
"I think it is an ideal opportunity for Peter to address the accusations and innuendos which have tarnished him over many years," Mr Somlyay said.
"If an investigation is carried out and he has no case to answer then that can only be helpful to Peter."
Mr Slipper is one of Australia's biggest spending MPs, racking up tens of thousands of dollars on taxis, Commmonwealth cars and flights to Canberra via Sydney.
Travel records obtained by the Daily have shown him to attend places ranging from Brisbane's Fortitude Valley to Sydney's Kings Cross at our expense.
The MP has refused to open his official diary to the Daily, saying only that his travel has been for parliamentary and electoral business.
Mr Somlyay said he would have no problem opening his diary to the Daily as long as the privacy of those he met was protected.
Travel expense records from last year show Mr Somlyay's spending to be only a fraction of that of Mr Slipper.
Mr Slipper, who came under fire over a 43-day trip to Europe, spent more than $30,000 in family travel last year, according to documents tabled in Parliament in July.
Mr Slipper claimed $10,570.34 for private car expenses, while Mr Somlyay presented a bill for $374.40.
Mr Somlyay told the Daily yesterday that the travel expense scandal had affected the reputation of all MPs, particularly himself as Mr Slipper's nearest colleague.
He revealed there had been a big fallout for the LNP.
"There are so many people who won't go to Peter Slipper who then make appointments to see me instead,"; the former party whip said.
"It is definitely having an impact," he said of the damage to the LNP brand.
"All this could be cleared up if he makes his records available to the appropriate authorities."
Former Howard Government minister Mal Brough has said he will seek pre-selection for Mr Slipper's seat of Fisher at the next election.