Kenyan born Australian Senator Lucy Gichuhi was accused of using taxpayers money to foot the bill for two family members to be flown in to celebrate her birthday.
Gichuhi was forced to pay back Ksh161,077 which she maintained was an administrative error involving a misunderstanding of travel rules.
Records show she billed taxpayers the money for two return airfares from Darwin where she stays to Adelaide where she held her birthday as part of her ‘family traveller’ allowance.
According to the Australian laws, ‘family traveller’ allowance is a fund that can be used to pay for family members to visit politicians on ‘parliamentary, electorate or official business’.
The rules further state that the entitlement is provided to allow senators and members of Parliament the opportunity to balance their work and family responsibilities.
Gichuhi admitted to the incident and agreed to repay the full amount with additional 25 percent penalty.
On Sunday, the senator tweeted: “Regarding the media reports about my travel expenses, this was an administrative error involving a misunderstanding of travel rules. I’ve raised an invoice from the department to pay the costs of $2139 in full.”
Senator Gichuhi posted photos of the event on her Facebook account and her birthday speech was also uploaded to her parliamentary website.
The Kenyan-born senator moved to Australia in 1999 and was elected in 2016 after the High Court ruling that elbowed out politician Bob Day.
This month, she moved to kill off allegations stating she remained a dual citizen following leaked legal advice suggesting the independent-cum-Liberal senator may not have completed all steps required to relinquish her Kenyan citizenship.
Advice from University of Nairobi professor Edwin Abuya noted Senator Gichuhi should have written to Kenya’s nationality affairs minister to renounce her Kenyan citizenship, but in a statement, she highlighted a series of “definitive statements” she argued proved she was solely an Australian citizen.