The State Opposition has accused Liberal MP Ian Britza of coming up with spurious reasons to twice travel to Texas, his wife's home State, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $12,000.
Mr Britza, a first-term backbencher who is in the fight of his political life to beat high-profile Labor candidate Reece Whitby, said the travel was justified and the Labor allegations were simply political opponents throwing dirt.
Mr Britza travelled to Texas between December and January 2008-09 and again between December last year and January this year.
The first trip, to the Texas capital Austin, resulted in the MP claiming $2880 from taxpayers for seven nights accommodation. But he did not claim $3850 in airfares.
According to Mr Britza's official report to Parliament of the trip, he met representatives from a range of Texan State Government departments.
"All the meetings I attended provided me with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of policy matters, especially in relation to my areas of responsibility as a member of the community development and justice standing committee," he wrote.
The second trip, from December 9 to January 29, which cost $9660, was to "assist me to gain a greater understanding of the relationship between Perth and Houston and WA and the State of Texas".
Mr Britza's report to Parliament under the imprest system says he visited Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston and met organisations including Dallas-Forth Worth Airport and departments of arts, transport, corrections and police.
Shadow treasurer Ben Wyatt said Mr Britza needed to explain how the people of Morley had benefited from regular travel at taxpayers' expense to Texas.
"It certainly appears that Mr Britza is using taxpayer funded travel during the festive season to Texas, for what may appear to unkind observers to be family vacations," Mr Wyatt said.
Mr Britza acknowledged his wife and son accompanied him on the trips but said their travel was paid for privately.
"I only saw her (Mrs Britza) on the weekends," he said. "I came back exhausted and thought, 'I'll never do this again'. It was an extremely busy time."
Mr Britza said any suggestion he had rorted the travel system was "an untruth" and a "low blow".'I came back exhausted and thought, 'I'll never do this again'."Morley MP *Ian Britza *