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More MPs forced to repay parliamentary expenses

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More members of state parliament have been forced to pay back misclaimed expenses, Premier Steven Marshall has conceded.

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In an estimates hearing this morning, later abandoned amid the escalating coronavirus outbreak crisis, the Premier was asked about the parliamentary entitlements scandal that claimed several Liberal scalps, with ministers Stephan Knoll and Tim Whetstone stepping down after agreeing to repay thousands of dollars in claims made under the Country Members Allowance.

Upper House president Terry Stephens also stepped aside, as did Government whip Adrian Pederick, with Stephens’ and first-term MP Fraser Ellis’s claims also probed by ICAC.

Asked by Opposition MP Tom Koutsantonis whether any other reimbursements had been subsequently made to the parliament, Marshall said: “There are a very small number of claims that go back to prior years.”

“My understanding is these relate to four members and are very small amounts and they move in both directions, so some are up and some are down,” he said.

“We do not have those details with us here at the moment, but they are all very small variations, where maybe one day over the last 10 years was claimed incorrectly or underclaimed.”

Asked if that meant some MPs may have been given extra payments, Marshall said: “That is my understanding.”

“I can assure the parliament that they are very minor alterations that relate back to prior periods and that going forward we are making it very clear that we need to have very transparent arrangements – the most transparent anywhere in the country – and they will be dealt with via the parliamentary website,” he said.

He said the amounts referred to were in the “hundreds” of dollars, rather than thousands, but did not identify which MPs were involved, although he undertook to provide that detail at a later time.

“We do not have the full detail of that but what I can assure you… that it was four members and it looks to me like it could potentially be just one night for each of those or in one case it could be two nights, over an extended period of time,” he said.

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