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Randall breaks silence over travel claims -

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SCOTT BEVAN: The West Australian Liberal MP Don Randall has broken his silence over the travel claims controversy that's dogged him for a week.

Despite paying back $5,000 in travel entitlements claimed last year, Mr Randall says he did nothing wrong and that the Prime Minister Tony Abbott agrees.

From Canberra, Tom Iggulden has our report.

TOM IGGULDEN: Don Randall's been under pressure over a range of expense claims.

On a trip back to Canberra from Perth, he stopped in at Melbourne to catch a West Coast Eagles football match with his wife, billing the taxpayer more than $5,000.

A trip to Cairns, where the Randalls' own an investment property, also cost $5,000.

Mr Randall paid that entitlement back - despite saying he was on electorate business - but offered no further explanation when he lodged his claim.

Earlier this week, on radio 3AW, the Prime Minister denied Mr Randall's trip was associated with his investment in Cairns.

TONY ABBOTT: The gentleman in question tells me that he didn't do that. That he went from Perth to Cairns to have some very important discussions with the Whip.

TOM IGGULDEN: Tony Abbott said it wasn't the sort of meeting that could be conducted over the phone.

TONY ABBOTT: There are certain things that just have to happen face to face.

TOM IGGULDEN: Now Mr Randall has told the West Australian newspaper he was visiting Cairns in his capacity as Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government, and that he and the Whip, Warren Entsch, spoke about local government amalgamations amongst other things.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told AM this morning the onus is now back on Tony Abbott to explain Mr Randall's defence.

BILL SHORTEN: I believe it's up to the Prime Minister to explain how Mr Randall's claims fell within the guidelines. Clearly each of the two people involved, Prime Minister Abbott and Don Randall, have got a different explanation.

TOM IGGULDEN: Don Randall is also defending he and his wife's attendance at the West Coast Eagles game. West Australian MPs are entitled to so-called "break-up" travel expenses - in other words the cost of transiting through other cities on their way back to Canberra.

He says the football game falls within that entitlement, telling the West Australian, quote "you might want to check out the front bar of the Hilton Hotel on Grand Final day to see how many members of all parties are there."

The Opposition Leader is reiterating his call for Tony Abbott to clear up travel entitlements.

BILL SHORTEN: And we have made it clear that we are willing to sit down with the Government to alleviate community concern, to make sure that there can be no doubt about the integrity of the system. That's what the community expect and the Opposition is willing to work with the Government to do that.

TOM IGGULDEN: But the Prime Minister is ruling out changing the system for now.

Greens leader Christine Milne says that will not go down well with the public.

CHRISTINE MILNE: I think the community would be much happier if Tony Abbott, instead of saying he hasn't seen a better idea, explained what is wrong with setting up a national ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption), and what is wrong with having a national integrity commissioner who the parliamentarian can ring and say, is this within entitlements in your view?

TOM IGGULDEN: Labor too has had recent controversy over travel claims. Shadow special minister of state Mark Dreyfus recently paid back several hundred dollars he claimed for a ski trip.

Christine Milne says her party is the only one agitating for real change.

CHRISTINE MILNE: We have never had support from either the Labor Party or the Coalition for that, in spite of the fact that right around the country there are state-based ICACs and we don't have anything nationally.

SCOTT BEVAN: That's the Greens leader Christine Milne ending Tom Iggulden's report.