MP says taxpayer-funded travel was 'all above board'
MEMBER for Flynn Ken O'Dowd says that $2100 he claimed at taxpayers' expense to attend the Bledisloe Cup with his wife last year was "all above board".
Mr O'Dowd's member's interests declarations show gas giant Santos gave him two complimentary tickets to the game, which he attended on the way to parliamentary sittings in Canberra.
While the central Queensland politician would have flown to Canberra that week anyway, Finance Department parliamentarian entitlement reports showed he claimed extra flights and travel allowance.
Fairfax reported Mr O'Dowd's entitlement claims included $800 for his flights from Gladstone to Brisbane and on to Canberra, $700 for his wife's return ticket from Gladstone to Brisbane and $400 in overnight travel allowance.
While entitlement forms show the flights were listed for attending parliament sittings, Mr O'Dowd said it was instead for "official business".
He said he had not seen his wife in "a while" and she joined him on the trip, which also included business meetings with Santos representatives "before and after" the rugby match.
"It was all above board," he said.
"It was in my official capacity to meet with Santos, and that included the game.
"The taxpayer was going to be paying for the flights to Canberra anyway.
"It's just a beat-up.
"This is all a storm in a teacup."
While guidelines for claiming entitlements for politicians were tightened last year, the rules allow for MPs to include business meetings at sporting events.