Queensland Senator Murray Watt outside Dawson MP George Christensen's Mackay office.
Queensland Senator Murray Watt outside Dawson MP George Christensen's Mackay office. Zizi Averill

Labor calls for 'member for Manila' to pay bill

REGARDLESS of the findings of an independent investigation, Labor is calling for Dawson MP George Christensen to pay back more than $3000 billed to taxpayers for flights.

Standing outside Mr Christensen's office Queensland Senator Murray Watt called booking connecting domestic flights from Canberra to the Philippines via Sydney and Brisbane a "scandalous" misuse of taxpayer money.

This comes as only hours earlier Mr Christensen has referred himself to the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority.

Mr Christensen said he was confident that his travel was undertaken within the rules of the parliamentary guidelines.

 

Mr Watt said the flights were a clear breach of the parliamentary guidelines, but even if Mr Christensen was cleared by the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority, Mr Watts said Labor would continue to chase the taxpayer funds.

"He shouldn't be hiding behind weasel words, and interpretations of guidelines. I think the guidelines are clear that you can't bill taxpayers for private flights," he said.

"Forget about what the expenses authority says, this just doesn't pass the pub test."

This comes as Mr Christensen has deleted a January 2017 tweet, where he attacked his parliamentary colleagues who were using taxpayer funds for family holidays.

In the tweet Mr Christensen wrote: "All of these MPs billing family holidays on taxpayers. Maybe axe MP's family travel or limit to Canberra. What other job provides this perk?"

 

George Christensen posted this tweet in January 2017, while reportedly in the Philippines.
George Christensen posted this tweet in January 2017, while reportedly in the Philippines. Twitter

Herald Sun reporter Anthony Galloway reported the now deleted tweet was sent while Mr Christensen was the Philippines visiting his fiancee.

In reaction to the tweet Mr Watt said Mr Christensen's "shamelessness knows no bounds".

"This guy is actually on twitter having a crack at other politicians who have done the wrong thing and billed the taxpayers for their family holidays, but he's actually doing this tweet while he's in the Philippines himself".

Mr Christensen would not comment any further when asked about his tweet.

Mr Watts spoke to the media following reports that Mr Christensen charged taxpayers $3069.45 for five separate domestic flights between Canberra and other major cities to link to his overseas jaunts, over four years.



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