Bishop faces calls to resign
BRONWYN Bishop faces pressure to resign as Speaker as ministers refuse to back her over a $ 5227 helicopter ride to a Liberal fundraiser that she billed to taxpayers.
Some furious ministers believe Mrs Bishop’s actions have damaged the Government’s standing with voters and are privately expressing doubts about whether she should remain in the role.
One minister compared Mrs Bishop to recent Speakers including Peter Slipper, saying “when people reach that Speaker’s position, they lose touch with reality”.
“This is a bad example of not thinking through what taxpayers will accept,” one minister said.
“Whether she should her job, I don’t know.”
Another minister suggested Mrs Bishop was likely to withstand the scandal but conceded it was a “bad look”.
Some believe Tony Abbott will protect his Speaker.
But the Prime Minister has so far avoided being asked questions about Mrs Bishop’s actions and his office has been
lose unable to provide a comment about his view.
Ministers’ anger reflects Treasurer Joe Hockey’s warning on Thursday that the claim did not pass the “sniff test”.
Mrs Bishop repaid the helicopter charge and a 25 per cent penalty this week after it emerged she had billed taxpayers for the flight from Melbourne to Geelong where she attended a Liberal fundraiser last November.
The chartered helicopter was hired through a company run by former Liberal staffer Andrew Gibbs, who is a close friend of Mrs Bishop’s chief of staff Damien Jones.
Her office has refused to release documents she used to claim the entitlement, which would show if she claimed the event was for official purposes.
Labor MP Pat Conroy yesterday referred Mrs Bishop’s actions to the Australian Federal Police, warning it was a criminal offence for MPs to give false or misleading information on the form.
Opposition manager of business Tony Burke said it was unbelievable that Mrs Bishop simply made a mistake when claiming the payment.