Gold Coast MP John-Paul Langbroek poses for a selfie at a Rotary charity ball. Source: Gold Coast Rotary website
Gold Coast MP John-Paul Langbroek poses for a selfie at a Rotary charity ball. Source: Gold Coast Rotary website

MP claimed for travel, while minutes from home

GOLD Coast MP John-Paul Langbroek has refused to explain why he claimed hundreds of dollars in expenses for meals and accommodation while staying no more than a 20-minute drive from his home.

Mr Langbroek - who is presently the Shadow Minister for Health - lives in a canal-side property in Clear Waters Island Waters - about 12 kilometres from Main Beach and just five kilometres from Broadbeach.

However those short distances did not stop him billing the taxpayer for travel allowance when he attended events at the beachside suburbs.

Mr Langbroek claimed $270 worth of travel to stay at Main Beach on September 5, 2015 - about a 20-minute drive from his house.

Then again on February 13, 2016 he claimed another $270, to stay in Broadbeach which is a 10-minute drive from his residence.

Finally on June 18, 2016 Mr Langbroek claimed $270 worth of travel - again to stay in Broadbeach.

Mr Langbroek's expenses claim comes to light amidst increased scrutiny around the way politicians spend public money in the wake of the LeyBuy scandal which led former Health Minister Sussan Ley to return to the backbench.

Ms Ley purchased a Gold Coast unit while on official ministerial business in the Sunshine State.

On the night of June 18, Mr Langbroek attended a black tie charity ball at the Sofitel Hotel - with the proceeds going to Gold Coast Rotary.

Tickets cost $150 a head and included a three-course meal, live entertainment and four hours of premium drinks.

Mr Langbroek refused to answer questions relating to the specifics surrounding the travel claims, saying he had not broken the rules which govern entitlements.

"'All my travel claims have been assessed and ticked off on by Parliamentary officers according to the rules," Mr Langbroek said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Langbroek later said all claims were made on dates when he was attending events in his electorate.

Under the rules which govern expenses for Queensland MPs pollies are able to claim a $270 a day allowance for meals and accommodation when they travel within their electorate - which in many cases covers a huge area.

The rules state to be eligible to claim the allowance an MP must be away from home for more than 12 hours.

A spokesman from the Queensland Labor Party said: "It's up to Mr Langbroek to explain how these claims are appropriate."

John-Paul Langbroek
John-Paul Langbroek

Professor of parliamentary and electoral law at the University of Queensland Graeme Orr said the claim looked odd at face value.

"Overall Mr Langbroek is not a big spender," Prof Orr said after looking through a Parliamentary report, which detailed MP's expenses claims for the past financial year.

"Perhaps Mr Langbroek chose to crash at Gold Coast hotels because he had Gold Coast business the next morning after a late-night or all-day Gold Coast based function or conference? 

"If so, that might be convenient for his use of his time, but hardly economic for the taxpayers if two cab rides would have achieved the same purpose."

Mr Langbroek has not clarified if he spent the money on meals, accommodation, or both.

Of the ten MPs based on the Gold Coast he and the LNP Member for Burleigh, Michael Hart are the only two who claimed travel expenses under the category aimed at helping MPs get around their electorate.

The rule, which governs electorate travel claims, states the expenses must be incurred when an MP is: "Attending to business (including attending conferences, functions, meetings or seminars) directly relating to a Member's electorate."

Mr Hart claimed $270 to attend the Surf Life Saving Australian Championships on the Sunshine Coast on April 24 last year.

"Michael was invited to attend the Surf Life Saving Australian Championships as a guest of Surf Life Saving Australia in his capacity as State Member for a number of Surf Clubs in his electorate who had competitors participating in events over the competition," a spokeswoman said. 

"He also undertook some presentation duties in this capacity on the day."

Gold Coast MP Michael Hart.
Gold Coast MP Michael Hart.

How much Gold Coast MPs spent on Travel in 2015-16

Micheal Hart LNP MP for Burleigh $10,375.29
Ray Stevens LNP MP for Mermaid Beach $7,551.90
Verity Barton, LNP MP for Broadwater $6,187.12
John-Paul Langbroek LNP MP for Surfers Paradise $5,793.20
Jann Stuckey LNP MP for Currumbin $4,314.17
Rob Molhoek, LNP MP for Southport $2,298.34
Ros Bates LNP MP for Mudgeeraba $1,687.58
Sid Cramp LNP MP for Gaven $1,400.82
Mark Boothman LNP MP for Albert $631.20
Michael Crandon LNP MP for Coomera $7,102.83

The top 10 travel expense totals by Qld MPs in 2015-16

MP             Total
Ann Leahy  $60,588.01
Robbie Katter $54,995.41
Lachlan Millar $46,663.20
Shane Knuth $36,259.26
Billy Gordon $16,294.45
Stephen Bennett $14,445.16
Ian Walker $12,542.24
Jeff Seeney $11,739.08
Deb Frecklington $11,072.36
Mark McArdle $10,494.78

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