Bishop faces calls to re­sign

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - STEVEN SCOTT

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.

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