Ferguson pays back $776 taxi ride

HEALTH Minister Michael Ferguson has paid back the Department of Premier and Cabinet for a $776 taxi ride, but the opposition says it only proves his guilt.

Figures released in State Parliament last week revealed the Launceston-based MP used a private car in May to travel return to Hobart to attend a press conference.

This prompted Opposition Leader Bryan Green to call on the government to pay back the amount, and Premier Will Hodgman said "we will not be paying back money we have actually saved".

But Mr Ferguson told Parliament yesterday that he paid back the amount this week.

"When I was first advised of the cost, I offered to pay the money back," Mr Ferguson said.

He said he was advised by the department that it was not necessary to pay it back "because we were on track to save money".

"I have insisted on paying the money back, and that payment took place yesterday," he said.

Mr Hodgman said people "could draw their own conclusions" on whether it was a bad look for the government.

Mr Green said it was a "damning admission and an extraordinary show of arrogance".

"No one will believe he paid the money back voluntarily as he claims because when he was sprung he would not accept he had done anything wrong," Mr Green said.

"Mr Ferguson has paid the money back as we insisted he should, but he expressed no regret for wasting almost $800 of taxpayers' money," he said.

Cabinet signed off on a plan in April to get rid of three cars and three drivers from the ministerial car fleet by moving to a pool system in a bid to save about $500,000 a year.

The move was criticised by unions who labelled it "impractical" and would result in MPs having to walk or get a taxi if a driver was unavailable.

The government said last week $27,000 has been saved in the three months to July by reducing the amount of ministerial drivers.

The department said it had now taken steps to ensure costs were known before booking private cars for ministers.

Michael Ferguson

Michael Ferguson

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