Mr Hide said Auditor-General Kevin Brady’s preliminary view was that $63,234.85 of Act’s leadership budget had been misspent.
But after meeting Mr Brady… Mr Hide said he had convinced him that some of that spending was actually within the rules.
“He has accepted it was legitimate parliamentary business.”
At issue was a nationwide petition which cost as much as $46,376.42 to produce and which was circulating in May and June last year.
Mr Hide said with that item removed, the amount under question was now $16,858.43.
It is the first time Mr Hide has revealed the extent of Act’s potential liability.
“I am pleased the amount has come down. The report was always draft and the findings provisional – so I wasn’t going to rush to judgment.”
Mr Hide said he had worked “scrupulously” to follow the rules, and thought he had complied, but he and other parliamentarians must accept the Auditor-General’s final view when it is presented. “It would bring total disrepute on our Parliament and Government if we ignore him.”
Asked if Act would pay back the $16,000, Mr Hide said he was waiting to see what the report said.
Asked if he would support passing legislation to validate the spending, he said: “It would be a huge mistake for MPs to use their position of privilege and power to change the rules for their own spending just because they can”.