The assistant treasurer, Stuart Robert, says he will pay back thousands of dollars of home internet bills, which he concedes were higher than public expectations.
The Queensland MP came under scrutiny over his home internet costs, after it was revealed taxpayers were charged $2832 in just one month on his 4G broadband connection.
Robert said his “semi-rural” home in Nerang, near the Pacific Highway on the Gold Coast, was too far from the telephone exchange to get broadband, so he was forced to use a 4G wireless connection.
He said his taxpayer-funded internet bills would soon drop back to normal levels.
“I can confirm that the NBN is now being rolled out in my local area and I have a connection appointment booked in,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“When installed, this will result in an immediate drop in costs to a level similar to other parliamentarians.”
Parliamentary expense records in the three months to May show Robert spent more than $2000 a month on average for his Gold Coast residence.
He has been charging taxpayers more than $1000 per month for data at his home since 2016.
Robert told Fairfax Media he racked up a high bill in May because he used 300 gigabytes of data, so had to pay for extra after exceeding his 50GB limit.
Optus currently offers unlimited 4G broadband for $90 a month, while Exetel offers 250GB a month for just $70.
It’s understood the national broadband network will not be rolled out in some parts of Nerang until the first quarter of 2019.
“I’ve asked the special minister of state to report back to me,” the prime minister, Scott Morrison, told reporters in Tasmania on Friday.
“Once I’ve heard from the special minister of state, then we’ll take the next step.
“I think [voters would] want an explanation and that’s why I’ve asked for one.”
Robert has a master’s degree in information technology and was the chief executive of GMT Recruitment, an IT recruiter, before he entered parliament in 2007.
He was dumped from the Coalition ministry by Malcolm Turnbull in 2016 after a scandal over a “private” trip to Beijing when he attended an event to celebrate a deal involving an Australian mining company headed by a Liberal party donor.
Morrison appointed Robert assistant treasurer in his August reshuffle after replacing Turnbull as prime minister.