Bronwyn Bishop Choppergate
Its been said before – Bronwyn Bishop must go. Not only does she on an ongoing basis overstep the mark but a total embarrassment to all. We all know the other side is worse but how the hell can they be dealt with when Bishop becomes cannon fodder. Wake up you idiot.
PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has declared Bronwyn Bishop is ‘on probation’ following revelations of her extravagant expense account in what is now called choppergate.
Mr Abbott made the comments after it was revealed that she racked up $811,857 in taxpayer-funded expenses last year, including two helicopter trips for Liberal Party fundraisers.
Speaking at the unveiling of the next stage of the NSW Government’s WestConnex project, Mr Abbott said Bishop had ‘copped a justifiable hiding’ over the scandal and said he understood why the public was angry, conceding he too was unimpressed.
But he then made a bizarre attempt to try and play down the problem by urging the public to keep a “sense of proportion” about the scandal, when billions of dollars are being spent on infrastructure in NSW.
Abbott Speech at the Libs Conference
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made a bizarre defence of Bronwyn Bishop over her taxpayer expense claims.
“But I would ask for people to keep a sense of proportion here. Let’s face it, today we’re talking about a $15 billion project that will transform the lives of Sydneysiders.
“We’re talking on this very spot about a $130 million project that will mean that every user of King Georges Road has a better life on a daily basis.”
The hefty travel bill for the member for the Northern Beaches electorate of Mackellar does not include two extra charter flights to Young for another fundraiser — just days after her $5227 Geelong helicopter trip — and Nowra for two seniors forums.
A Daily Telegraph analysis of the speaker, who has rapidly lost the confidence of the government front bench, has revealed the enormous expenses the politician costs Australians.
It has also been revealed Mrs Bishop’s trip to Young was just five days after she racked up $5227 for an 80km luxury helicopter trip between Melbourne and Geelong for a party fundraiser.
The Department of Finance did not declare her two extra charter flights because they were close to the reporting deadline last year and will be included in the next set of expense claims to be released at the end of the year.
The Young Witness newspaper reported last year that Mrs Bishop received a “rock star” reception at the fundraiser in Novemeber. She told the outlet she discussed her role as speaker.
Former colleague and treasurer Peter Costello yesterday joined the chorus of condemnation for Mrs Bishop, declaring talking about parliament did not justify claiming a travel expense.
“The rule can’t be that you can just turn up somewhere and talk about parliament and then it’s justified,” Mr Costello told The Bolt Report.
“I could wander up to someone at a birthday party and say, ‘look, I’d like to tell you about the parliament’ and they’d probably walk away from me as they normally do at birthday parties.”
Mrs Bishop attended two seniors forums on November 22.
Despite her position becoming increasingly untenable Mrs Bishop retains the absolute support of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Parliament, which is in winter recess, does not resume until August 10 and Mr Abbott is banking on a Labor bloodbath over asylum seeker and carbon policy at a national conference this weekend to divert attention from the speaker.
Mrs Bishop yesterday made her second public appearance in as many days, joining NSW Premier Mike Baird at the unveiling of plans to redevelop the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park.
She again defended her travel expenditure, but conceded the trip to Geelong was an act of “grandiosity”.
“It was done within the entitlement,’’ she said.
“The fact is when I saw that figure I thought it was too large.
“The taxpayers’ money has been repaid and that’s why I did it and it is very much the best form of apology.”
Mrs Bishop remains convinced party fundraisers are within official duties.
“I find it absolutely unconscionable to think that you would think that there are certain people in the Australian community not entitled to hear from members of Parliament.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott had to ask a defiant Mrs Bishop to resign as speaker.
“Tony Abbott has to ask Mrs Bishop to stand aside,’’ he said.
“This is now a test of his leadership. Does Tony Abbott have the strength of character to do what everyone thinks should happen and ask Mrs Bishop to stand aside?”
ANALYSIS: BY SIMON BENSON
BRONWYN Bishop should know she has no choice but to resign as Speaker with choppergate. And Prime Minister Tony Abbott should know this, too.
Continued and indefensible resistance to this reality will simply cause the Abbott government unnecessary political damage.
Treasurer Joe Hockey’s admission that her extravagance at taxpayer expense doesn’t pass the sniff test is dead right.
It doesn’t because it appears to be a habitual offence rather than a solitary error of judgment, as she claimed.
Hockey, of all people, would be acutely aware of the gross hypocrisy he himself is now exposed to — that the end of the age of entitlement is not at an end for some.
He can no longer expect ordinary families to tighten their belts when MPs are loosening theirs.
Politicians have privileges that would exceed most people’s imagination. They get driven to work in taxpayer-funded limos, eat and drink for free at work and pocket unspent travel allowances.
These curiously labelled entitlements would exceed the ordinary worker’s salary. Bishop has demonstrated why they should be abolished.
But her handling of it and apparent indignation at having to be made accountable for it added another dimension to the political problem.
Her petty retaliatory attack on Hockey showed even less regard for the impossible situation now confronting the PM. Abbott is now at risk of being exposed as lacking the capital to act against a key figure of the party’s Right when he knows it would be the right and astute thing to do.
It can be revealed that in 2014 Mrs Bishop claimed:
●$309,581.99 in overseas trips
●$47,086.14 in domestic trips
●$32,471.12 in limousine travel
●$350,909.63 in office costs
Source – Daily Telegraph