Barnaby Joyce has been cleared of misusing his expenses but has taken issue with the investigating authority’s assertion it had to take his word for it that he was telling the truth about his Canberra stays.
The former deputy prime minister was on Thursday cleared of misusing his expenses to spend time with his adviser-turned-partner Vikki Campion.
Mr Joyce claimed at least $16,000 in refunds for 58 days he spent in Canberra in 2017 when parliament wasn’t sitting.
That compared to just 12 nights in 2015 and in 2016.
The Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority said it had to take the ex-Nationals leader at his word.
“Only Mr Joyce can determine that his overnight stay was primarily occasioned by that official business that Mr Joyce has identified,” the authority said in its report.
But Mr Joyce on Friday night said the five-month inquiry was based on evidence not “his word”.
“I can tell you that if you don’t have the evidence you have nothing,” he told AAP.
“If all that was needed was my word then we could have done this inquiry in five minutes, not five months because I would have just said, ‘I’ve done everything right’.
“No, audits are based on fact, corroboration of fact, cross-investigation of fact, That’s how audits work. That’s why it took five months, not five minutes.”
Mr Joyce earlier on Friday defended his use of travel expenses to stay in Canberra while parliament wasn’t sitting, saying he was “minister for everything” at the time.
The New England MP said he always expected to be cleared and that after “hundreds of questions” auditors found “not one single dollar misspent”.
“I was just about minister for everything at one stage – Northern Australia, resources, water, agriculture, deputy prime minister, national security committee, expenditure review committee, deputy of cabinet,” he told the Seven Network.
Mr Joyce quit as deputy prime minister in February after it was revealed he had left his wife to have a baby with Ms Campion, who had worked in his office as a media adviser.