South Australia’s corruption watchdog has weighed into the controversy over accommodation allowances paid to some state MPs with an investigation into money claimed over the past decade.
At least two government ministers have been caught up in the developing scandal and have paid back thousands of dollars.
“I intend to make further enquiries in respect of all claims for the country members accommodation allowance by any member of parliament over the last 10 years,” Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander said in a statement on Thursday.
Under current rules, country MPs in South Australia are able to claim an accommodation allowance of $234 a night for when they leave their electorates and visit Adelaide on parliamentary or other work-related business.
Claims for the past decade were tabled in parliament on Tuesday, revealing some administrative errors among tens of thousands of transactions.
Among those caught out making mistakes were Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone and Transport Minister Stephan Knoll.
Mr Whetsone has paid back about $7000 wrongly claimed while Mr Knoll has admitted to finding three errors but has opted to return everything he claimed since 2018, more than $29,000.
Premier Steven Marshall said he did not believe there had been any deliberate dishonesty involved while Treasurer Rob Lucas described the botched claims at sloppy and unacceptable, but stopped short of requiring the ministers to quit.
It was expected the auditor-general would investigate further but Mr Lander said the pair had discussed the matter to avoid duplication.
“The auditor-general has advised me that he does not intend at this time to investigate the matter in light of his office’s statutory responsibilities to audit the financial statements of all statutory public authorities,” the commissioner said.
“In due course, the auditor-general and I will discuss what recommendations can be made for improvements to the manner in which claims are made for an allowance.
Mr Lander said his own inquiry would be conducted in private.
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