The scandal over parliamentary allowances has claimed another scalp in South Australia, with Adrian Pederick standing down from his role as state government whip.
Premier Steven Marshall says he spoke with Mr Pederick on Thursday and while the country MP believes all his allowance claims for accommodation are above board, he will step down from the whip’s position.
“He does this out of an abundance of caution,” the premier said.
“He knows this has become a very significant distraction for the government at a time when we need to be 100 per cent focused on the coronavirus pandemic.
“And he’s also very cognisant of the heavy toll that this is taking on his family at the moment.”
On Sunday, two government ministers quit cabinet after admitting to mistakes with their allowance claims, while a third stood down for other reasons.
Former transport minister Stephan Knoll said he had found only a handful of his errors in his claims for accommodation allowances but had decided to repay more than $29,000 – everything he had been paid since 2018 – because of ambiguities with the rules.
Former primary industries minister Tim Whetstone also found errors and repaid about $7000.
The issue involves country MPs claiming an allowance of up to $234 for each night they spend away from their homes on parliamentary or other work-related business.
All the claims submitted by MPs over the past 10 years are now being investigated by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.
The resignations forced Mr Marshall into a major cabinet reshuffle, something he admitted he did not want to do during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his role as whip Mr Pederick helped manage the government’s legislative agenda and the operations of the parliament and also performed other functions on behalf of the government leaders and ministers.
Mr Marshall said he did not encourage him to stand down from the position but understood the pressure he was under.
“I think vision of his family home and the questions that have been put by the media have put enormous pressure on he and his family,” the premier said.
“There is a review underway but he has maintained he has done nothing wrong.
“He has assured me his claims are accurate.”