WA Liberal MP Don Randall was under scrutiny for his notorious trip to Cairns almost a year before the scandal broke.
Documents show bureaucrats raised questions about the trip in December 2012 after Mr Randall claimed expenses for the trip as electorate business.
Papers released under Freedom of Information laws show the Department of Finance contacted Mr Randall’s office a month after he flew to Cairns to seek confirmation the travel was for a party meeting or electorate business.
An unnamed staffer in the MP’s office replied: “Yes, this is correct — it is for electorate business.”
It was not until October 2013 that it emerged Mr Randall used taxpayer funds to fly to Cairns where he had an investment property.
New documents confirm Mr Randall repaid the $5285 he claimed for the trip on October 17, 2013.
But papers also show he had to repay $71 for the same trip in April last year after the department found he claimed a more lucrative allowance normally reserved for ministers or the opposition leader.
“You claimed and were paid at the office holder rate for travel to Cairns from 18 to 19 November 2012, which is higher than the rate you are entitled to,” the department wrote to Mr Randall last year.
“Your (travel allowance) has now been adjusted to reflect the correct payment rate and Finance is now seeking recovery of the overpaid amount.”
Bureaucrats apologised, saying the overpayment was the department’s fault.
Mr Randall also called Finance after the scandal broke amid “intense” media scrutiny seeking advice on whether the trip constituted electorate business.
The department says it told Mr Randall it noted the claim for electorate business was made “outside of the electorate”.
“So he needs to be satisfied of the purpose of the travel and discussions related back to electorate business,” a department note says.
Mr Randall has maintained the Cairns trip was appropriate because he met then-opposition whip Warren Entsch for “a couple of hours”.
A spokeswoman for Mr Randall said he had no comment on the Cairns affair.