Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert has paid back nearly $38,000 in internet costs he had initially claimed from taxpayers.
Mr Robert confirmed in a tweet on Friday that he had paid back $37,975 “that reflects excess usage charges under the Finance Department’s approved plan”.
The internet costs of the Gold Coast Liberal MP came under scrutiny last week, after it was revealed taxpayers spent $2832 in just one month on his 4G broadband connection.
Mr Robert said his “semi-rural” home in Nerang, near the Pacific Highway, was too far from the telephone exchange to get broadband, so he had been forced to use a 4G wireless connection.
He said his taxpayer-funded internet bills would soon drop back to normal levels.
“I can confirm that the NBN is now being rolled out in my local area and I have a connection appointment booked in,” he said in a statement last week.
“When installed, this will result in an immediate drop in costs to a level similar to other parliamentarians.”
Regarding internet expenditure – I‘ve immediately repayed a full amount of $37,975 that reflects excess usage charges under the Finance Department’s approved plan.
— Stuart Robert MP (@stuartrobertmp) October 12, 2018
Mr Robert told Fairfax Media he racked up a high bill in May because he used 300 gigabytes of data, so had to pay for extra after exceeding his 50GB limit.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison asked Special Minister of State Alex Hawke to investigate the bills last week. On Friday, Mr Hawke said he had been advised the Finance Department signed off on Mr Robert’s internet connection.
“Due to the location of his residence, Mr Robert was only able to access mobile broadband services with limited monthly download capabilities,” Mr Hawke said.
Despite the plan being approved, the high excess data charges had “understandably caused concern”, he said.