Abbott defends bike ride expenses

Taxpayers will continue to pick up the tab for Tony Abbott's charity work on his annual Pollie Pedal bike ride, after the Prime Minister declared it a "very intense engagement" with the community.

But he has dodged questions whether rules governing politicians' entitlements should be reviewed or overhauled after returning thousands of dollars in claimed expenses.

Mr Abbott coughed up almost $2000 for attending two weddings, including that of former Speaker Peter Slipper, whom he later doggedly pursued for alleged expenses rorting.

Mr Abbott has also repaid almost $10,000 in flight and Comcar expenses accrued in 2009 during a promotional tour for his book Battlelines.

And it was revealed yesterday Mr Abbott charged taxpayers more than $1000 in travel and accommodation costs to compete in the Port Macquarie Ironman in 2011. Quizzed by reporters on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Bali, the PM said he would not repay the money from the ironman event or bike ride.

"Let's not forget that Port Macquarie was a marginal seat effectively and I want to assure you that I don't go to marginal seats simply for sporting events, although the sporting event in question was a community event," he said.

Politicians from both the coalition and Labor have been caught out in recent days having to repay large sums of money to the Commonwealth for improper claims.

_The West Australian _revealed yesterday WA Liberal Steve Irons was forced to repay almost $11,000 this year after a "self audit" of his personal flights and Comcar use.

Former Gillard government attorney-general Mark Dreyfus also admitted he billed taxpayers for a ski trip to Perisher snowfields.

The West Australian

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