Andrea Vance reports at Stuff:
The husband of disgraced former minister Pansy Wong wrongly claimed more than $2000 of taxpayers’ money for private business trips, a watchdog has ruled.
A report ordered by Speaker Lockwood Smith last year found the couple had abused the MP’s travel perk on one occasion, in December 2008, and forced them to pay back almost $500. Wong resigned as Botany MP in December.
But, Auditor General Lyn Provost said another trip – in June 2008 to China’s Lianyungang province – was for “private business purposes” and Sammy Wong should not have asked for a rebate.
However, Provost said her investigations found there was ”no pattern of wrong doing” by the couple “or of extensive business activity linked with overseas travel”.
Wong said she welcomed the report because it found they had not “intentionally abused the system”.
She denied her husband meant to mislead the first inquiry.
In a statement she said: “At the November 2010 inquiry, Sammy Wong contacted the company in Lianyungang, China, to ascertain the dates that he visited there. He received a list detailing trips he had made and the June 2008 trip was not on it. None of the trips listed involved any parliamentary travel rebates. He accepted the external confirmation in good faith and had no intention to mislead any inquiry.”
Wong added: “I hope the findings of the Office of the Auditor General and my actions taken demonstrate that accountability was accepted and any mistake made was unintentional.”
While in no way condoning the claiming for two trips which were ineligible, I would note Pansy has paid a very high price for just $2,000 of wrong claims. Many other MPs were found to have inappropriately charged more than that to credit cards etc, and they got away with just paying it back.Tags: MPs expenses, Pansy Wong