Bishop pays chop­per cost

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - GE­OFF CHAM­BERS

SPEAKER Bron­wyn Bishop will pay taxpayers back more than $ 6500 af­ter hir­ing a he­li­copter to ferry her to a lav­ish Lib­eral Party fundraiser – which was only 80km away.

But crit­ics say that is not enough, and the NSW MP should apol­o­gise to taxpayers for the Novem­ber flight be­tween Mel­bourne and Gee­long.

It is un­der­stood Mrs Bishop was pres­sured by se­nior Lib­eral MPs to re­pay the funds,

Trea­surer Joe Hockey and So­cial Ser­vices Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son said MPs should al­ways act within the en­ti­tle- m e n t guide­lines.

“It is not a good look and the S p e a k e r should ex­plain it,” Mr Hockey said y e s t e r d a y morn­ing.

By mida f t e r n o o n Mrs Bishop is­sued a state­ment con­firm­ing she would pay the money back but de­nied she had breached the rules.

The 72- year- old char­tered the he­li­copter for $ 5227.27 on

s Novem­ber 5 to at­tend a Lib­eral Party fundraiser at the Clifton Springs Golf Club, a one- hour drive from Mel­bourne.

“Whilst my un­der­stand­ing is that this travel was con­ducted within the rules, to avoid any doubt, I will re­im­burse the full costs,” Mrs Bishop said.

But La­bor MP Tony Burke said “no one makes an hon­est mis­take to ac­ci­den­tally turn up to a Lib­eral Party fundraiser by he­li­copter”.

“It was ei­ther within the rules or a se­ri­ous of­fence has been com­mit­ted,” he said.

“Bron­wyn Bishop should pro­vide a copy of the form that she signed con­firm­ing this he­li­copter ride to a golf club was for of­fi­cial busi­ness.”

La­bor MP Pat Con­roy said Mrs Bishop should apol­o­gise: “She doesn’t think she’s done any­thing wrong. She still thinks it’s OK she caught a he­li­copter to a Lib­eral fundraiser.’’

Un­der reg­u­la­tions, in­tro­duced by the Ab­bott gov­ern­ment in 2013 Mrs Bishop will pay a 25 per cent load­ing fee – an ex­tra $ 1300 – for amend­ing an er­ro­neous travel claim.

She has also been outed as a fre­quent flyer, spend­ing more than $ 130,000 of public money on “of­fi­cial travel” in the sec- ond half of last year. In Oc­to­ber taxpayers were slugged $ 88,084.29 for a 15- day visit to Europe, in­clud­ing vis­its to Italy, Bel­gium, Aus­tria and Switzer­land, to bol­ster her failed run for the pres­i­dency of the In­ter- Par­lia­men­tary Union based in Geneva.

A month be­fore Mrs Bishop em­barked on an 11- day trip to Ja­pan, Malaysia, Viet­nam, Laos and South Korea at a cost of $ 42,805.51.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten said us­ing taxpayers money to pay for a he­li­copter showed “how ar­ro­gant the gov­ern­ment is”.

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