Embattled Liberal MP Don Randall has broken his silence over his use of parliamentary entitlements, saying his expense claims for a north Queensland trip were totally above board.
The West Australian MP also accused the media of taking “unprecedented interest” in his expense claims, and said Labor MPs had sympathised with him privately.
Mr Randall has faced questions over a $5200 trip last year with his wife to Cairns, where he bought an investment property a week after returning.
He told The West Australian not everyone in the public may agree with him, but he was comfortable he’d acted entirely within the parliamentary rules around entitlements.
“I’ve prided myself over the years for being honest and doing the right thing and I’m sure somebody will find on some occasion where they don’t believe that’s the case,” he told The West Australian.
“But I can sleep well at night because I have always been honest as a politician.”
Mr Randall said he decided to pay the money back not because he’d done anything wrong but because of “grave” public concern fanned by a “media frenzy” into his claims.
He denied Prime Minister Tony Abbott – who on Wednesday publicly defended the conduct of his MP – ordered him to pay back the money.
He admitted visiting his property on the Cairns visit, but said the purpose of his trip was to meet with then opposition whip Warren Entsch to discuss a range of issues.
“It wasn’t as if I had the keys or anything,” he said.
“I had a look.”
He also said a separate trip to Melbourne with his wife to watch an AFL match – at a cost of more than $5000 – was “totally within the entitlement”.
“You might want to check the front bar of the Hilton Hotel (in Melbourne) on grand final day to see how many members of all parties are there,” he said.
He said it was the media, not Labor, trawling over this issue, and said opposition MPs had contacted him to assure they weren’t fuelling the scandal.