Bishop pays chopper cost
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”.