The Speaker of the House of Representatives Bronwyn Bishop has said she will pay back the $5000 in taxpayer money, with a 25 per cent loading, that she spent on a chartered helicopter ride from Melbourne to Geelong last year.
Ms Bishop has been in the firing line this week after her expense account showed she had spent $130,889.80 on official travel in the second half of last year. This amount includes over $88,000 she spent on a 15-day visit to Europe while she was running for the presidency of the Inter-Parliamentary Union based in Geneva, as well as an 11-day trip through Asia, which cost $42,805.51.
There have been calls for the Speaker to resign in the wake of what has been deemed a gross misuse of taxpayer funds. As a result of the uproar, Ms Bishop vowed to pay back the money spent on a 90km helicopter ride from Melbourne to Clifton Springs, near Geelong, for a Liberal Party fundraiser last year.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was scathing in his remarks about the Speaker’s abuse of privilege, saying, “This is an out-of-touch, arrogant Government who are cutting the incomes of vulnerable Australians, yet at the same time they’re wafting around above our heads in taxpayer-funded helicopters when you could have just driven down the road like the rest of us.
“It is such a colossally arrogant thing to do.”
He has also called on the Prime Minister to repudiate her actions for her “shameful” use of taxpayer money.
Even Treasurer Joe Hockey admitted that Ms Bishop’s use of taxpayer funded allowances “did not pass the sniff test”, and has called on her to state her case in the wake of his declaration last year that “the age of entitlement is over, and the age of personal responsibility has begun” – which Ms Bishop seems to have taken as lip service.
Considering Ms Bishop’s colossal expense account, paying back the $5000 for her chartered flight may not be enough to save her.
What do you think? Is Ms Bishop within her rights? Or do you feel her expenses are a gross misuse of taxpayer money? Has she abused her privilege and brought the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives into disrepute? Should she also pay back some of the money she has spent on overseas travel? Should she resign?
Read more at The Sydney Morning Herald.