Treasurer Joe Hockey said he could understand public anger over Speaker Bronwyn Bishop’s claim of a $5000 chartered helicopter flight from Melbourne to Geelong for a Liberal party function, saying she would “need to explain” the use of the funds.
Mrs Bishop bowed to pressure on Thursday and decided to reimburse the $5227.27 she claimed for a November flight from Melbourne to the Clifton Springs Golf Club. Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said if Mrs Bishop didn’t provide an adequate explanation, the Speaker should refund the money.
“I have today written to the Special Minister of the State indicating I will reimburse the Department of Finance the costs associated with the use of my charter allowance on 5 November 2014”, the statement said. The controversy deepened with Mrs. Bronwyn Bishop being accused by the Opposition leader, Bill Shorten, for assuming that she was better than the ordinary Australians and “shamefully” spending a whopping AU$5,000 of their hard earned money on her travel for attending a fundraiser for the Liberal Party.
Bishop must also pay a penalty of $1,307 because new rules implemented after a series of parliamentary expenses scandals in 2013 require politicians to repay an additional 25% of any adjustment to travel claims.
‘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.’.
I mean Mrs Bishop’s spokesperson says she’s concerned for her country?
She is ranked seventh out of the top 10 spenders for that period, and one of the biggest spenders in parliament if you leave out once-off office fit-out costs. “The Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, is doing a superb job”.
Mr Hockey said the claim was “not a good look” in the midst of federal budget troubles, and Ms Bishop should “explain how the money was spent”.
However, she stood by her position that the travel was within the rules.
According to the Department of Finance, that includes $88,000 on a 15-day official visit to Europe while she was running for the presidency of the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union. She chose to save a whole of 15 minutes by not driving, and instead flying in a private charter from Melbourne to Geelong (50 minutes).
The other MPs who spent more than Mrs Bishop during the same period was Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and frontbenchers Julie Bishop, Andrew Robb, Scott Morrison, Ian Macfarlane and Barnaby Joyce.