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Former Liberal MP to face court over accommodation claims

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Former Liberal backbencher Fraser Ellis is set to make his first appearance in court on 23 deception charges related to claims for the country members accommodation allowance.

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Ellis is listed to come before Adelaide Magistrates Court today following an investigation by SA’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.

The ICAC will allege he made fraudulent claims for the country members accommodation allowance, totalling more than $18,000, between May 13, 2018 and June 12, 2020.

He is accused of claiming accommodation expenses for staying in Adelaide overnight to carry out his parliamentary duties when he was not actually staying in the city.

Ellis told parliament in a shock announcement at 2:13am on February 19 that he had suspended his membership of the Liberal Party while under investigation – a move which plunged the Marshall Government into minority where they have faced trouble on key divisions since.

Ellis, who paid back $42,130 in expenses last year, told parliament at the time he would vigorously defend the charges.

“I have never acted dishonestly, any error in a claim form completed by a relatively inexperienced member was exactly that, an error,” he said on February 13.

“The allegations are contrary to who I am and what I stand for. I have great faith in the judicial system of this state, and I look forward to being exonerated by an impartial court, free of influence from other arms of government.”

The member for Narungga has been sitting on the crossbench in the House of Assembly where he has given the government support on confidence and supply.

Ellis says he intends to contest the next state election in 2022, but it is still unclear whether he will be preselected as the Liberal Party’s candidate for the safe regional seat.

Premier Steven Marshall initially indicated the party would preselect someone else if Ellis’s legal troubles dragged out.

Dianah Walter, a former staffer to veteran crossbencher Geoff Brock, announced earlier this month she will stand for the seat of Narungga as an independent at the next election.

-AAP

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