Bronwyn Bishop resignation: Standing by old friend will hurt Tony Abbott, says Andrew Bolt

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Bronwyn Bishop resigned as speaker did she? The rest of us want here sacked forthwith. Tony Abbott has shown very weal leadership here. How can he now justify going after Labor and their expense rorts? Report by Andrew Bolt.

TONY Abbott has paid a high price for his loyalty to Speaker Bronwyn Bishop. Waiting until today to have her resign was a disastrous miscalculation that has damaged the Prime Minister.

It was clear three weeks ago that Bishop had to go, or at least give a damn good explanation for charging taxpayers $5000 to fly in a helicoptor to a Liberal fundraiser.

Neither happened. Bishop tried to brazen it out and Abbbott refused to demand his friend and ally resign.

That decision, not supported by any of the three big rivals for his job – frontbenchers Malcolm Turnbull, Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison – has exposed flaws in Abbott’s judgment.

Abbott thought the scandal would blow over, a curious misreading of the public’s fury over politicians fiddling expenses and of the potent symbolism of flying a helicopter for a short trip that taxpayers must do by car.

It was also a misreading of Bishop and her weakness for travelling in style – at taxpayers’ expense – to functions that had little or nothing to do with her official duties.

Every new day seemed to bring fresh examples, including revelations on Saturday that Bishop also charged for a plane charter to Nowra, and hired limousines rather than take the Commcar to flit around Sydney on the laughable excuse that limos could use bus lanes.

Abbott also worried that dumping Bishop would set the bar too low for safety for other MPs caught charging for what they should not.

Another miscalculation, because defending Bishop just made all Liberals look dodgy.

And that goes to the underlying failure – putting loyalty to an individual above loyalty to the team.

All Liberal MPs knew the punishment the Government was taking on this.

The polls were bad. The Government could not get any other issue through the media uproar. Abbott even had to issue a mere press release to damn Russia’s veto of a United Nations investigation into the MH17 disaster, because fronting reporters would invite more questions about Bishop.

Worst of all, Treasurer Joe Hockey could not push his critical message of restraint in government spending while the public saw Bishop showing no restraint with her own spending.

Abbott is a fine friend who sticks through the hard times.

I admire him for it and have been a beneficiary of it.

But he had many other friends in Government who needed him to consider them, too.

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