Slipper may be facing wider probe
PETER Slipper may be the subject of a far broader Australian Federal Police investigation into his use of entitlements than that covered in allegations made by former staffer James Ashby about improper Cabcharge use.
The Department of Finance consulted the AFP about the potential impacts of the release of its report into the Member for Fisher's entitlement claims for the period July 1 to December 31, 2009, before reversing its own decision to do so.
The department has determined, after its initial decision to release the document was appealed, that to do so "would or could reasonably be expected to prejudice the conduct of an investigation of a breach or possible breach of the law, or prejudice the enforcement or proper administration of the law in a particular instance".
Mr Slipper, who will not explain the nature of parliamentary or electoral business that led to the expenses he has claimed, has previously declared that the Department of Finance report cleared him of any wrongdoing.
The department will only acknowledge that it has completed its investigation, which began after the Sunshine Coast Daily wrote a series of articles about the now disgraced Speaker's extraordinarily high entitlement claims for the second half of 2009.
A Freedom of Information request by this paper for a copy of the report was granted by the Department of Finance in April but was then subject to an appeal by a third party.
The AFP advice to the department played a critical role in the decision being reversed.
It would not directly answer questions about just how far its investigation into alleged Cabcharge misuse had now reached.
"Your enquiry regarding the examination of Peter Slipper's expense claims - specifically over the 1 July-31 December 2009 period - has been received," a spokesman said.
"As this is an ongoing AFP investigation, it is not appropriate to comment on this matter."
The Department of Finance also found that its report should not be released because "its disclosure would or could reasonably be expected to prejudice the fair trial of a person or the impartial adjudication of a particular case".
"After consultation with the AFP, I am satisfied that at this time there is an ongoing investigation and that release of the document would or could be reasonably expected to prejudice the conduction of the AFP's investigation," a spokesman said.
"It is not known at this time whether a trial will follow from the AFP's investigation. However I am satisfied that release of the document at this time could reasonably be expected to prejudice a person's right to a fair trial were one to be commenced."