The Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, has bowed to political pressure and agreed to repay more than $5,000 she billed taxpayers for a chartered helicopter flight from Melbourne to Geelong for a party fundraiser.
Her travel claims have come under the microscope this week after it was revealed she had charged taxpayers $5227 for a 15 minute helicopter ride from Melbourne to a Geelong golf club on November 5 past year. The recent controversy around the speaker for spending a huge sum of tax payer’s money for her travel needs had led Treasurer Joe Hockey to call on her to give an explanation of her tax payer funded extravagant travelling expenses.
She released a short statement this afternoon confirming she would pay for the flight herself.
Mrs Bishop’s entitlements report also showed she claimed $357 in travel allowance on August 1, 2014.
The party pointed to a standard government form for charter certification for parliament’s presiding officers that says “office holders may use charter transport (including aircraft, helicopters and other vehicles) for their personal transport in connection with their office holder duties”.
‘If it’s been signed in its usual form, you just can’t pretend that part of the ordinary business of being the Speaker is getting a chopper to a Liberal Party fundraiser, ‘ he told the Seven Network on Friday.
“It was either within the rules or a serious offence has been committed”.
‘This seems a curious decision which is not only prohibitively expensive, but also inefficient, ‘ Mr Conroy said.
I mean Mrs Bishop’s spokesperson says she’s concerned for her country? “It is not a good look and the Speaker should explain it”, he told radio 2UE on Thursday. But it was up to her to explain where the money went and how it was spent. Liberal frontbencher Scott Morrison said it was a matter for Mrs Bishop, and that Mr Shorten was in no position to talk about trust given his two days of evidence last week to the unions royal commission.
Speaker quizzed… Prime Minister Tony Abbott with Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bronwyn Bishop.
Labor has also criticised the “extravagance” of Bishop’s two-week trip to Italy, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland in October 2014, which cost a total of $88,084.
The special minister of state, Michael Ronaldson, announced tougher travel entitlement rules in November 2013 after a public outcry about federal politicians’ expenses claims.
Under penalty provisions introduced by Tony Abbott, MPs are slugged a 25 per cent loading when they reimbursement entitlements, adding $1300 to Mrs Bishop’s repayment.