A PETITION has been launched online calling for action to be taken over what Change.org says is a “serious abuse of his entitlements” by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
Mr Abbott has denied wrongly claiming $9,387.42 in travel expenses while promoting his book Battlelines in 2009, despite documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws and published on citizen journalism website No Fibs showing Mr Abbott was asked to pay back the money.
Mr Abbott was required to repay $6,255.49 for flights during his book tour, and a further $3,141.93 for other expenses including the use of commonwealth cars.
The inadvertent claims were an “oversight” by his office Mr Abbott told reporters at a press conference this week, saying Labor former special minister of state Gary Gray had fully dealt with the matter last year.
“There’s nothing further to add,” he said.
When further questions were raised relating to his use of Comcars — the company which provides the cars used by federal parliamentarians when they are on official business — while he was on his book tour, Abbott again said the matter was dealt with last year.
“The Labor minister at the time was perfectly satisfied that there had been nothing that was deliberately done wrong and the matter was closed.”
Mr Abbott has been criticised on Twitter for telling Guardian Australian journalist Bridie Jabour to ‘calm down’, after she was unsatisfied with Mr Abbott’s answers and continued to query the incorrect expense claims.
It appears many online are similarly unhappy with Mr Abbott’s handling of the matter, joining a petition on Change.org started by Jackie McMillan of Lilyfield which calls for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to prosecute Mr Abbott for the alleged “serious abuse of his entitlements”.
The petition has attracted 2,350 signatures.
The AFP have declined to comment directly on the petition. A spokesman has told AAP it was the responsibility of the Department of Finance to administer parliamentary entitlements.
The petition queries whether Mr Abbott is being treated differently to former federal speaker Peter Slipper, who is facing trial over alleged misuse of a taxpayer-funded Cabcharge card.
Mr Slipper will face court in December over claims he used the card to visit wineries and restaurants outside Canberra.
The petition says: “If it was good for Mr Slipper for $1000 of expenses, why should Mr Abbott get off with nearly $10,000 of falsely claimed personal expenses? Justice needs to be done!”
A spokesman for Mr Abbott on Wednesday said the issue was resolved.