Bishop ‘ can’t jus­tify’ splurge

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - DANIEL MEERS JIM O’ROURKE

SPEAKER Bron­wyn Bishop cost taxpayers $ 811,857 in ex­penses last year.

The hefty bill for the mem­ber for the Syd­ney elec­torate of Mackel­lar also does not in­clude two ex­tra char­ter flights to Young for another fundraiser – just days af­ter her $ 5227 Gee­long he­li­copter trip – and Nowra for two se­niors fo­rums. The Speaker has rapidly lost the con­fi­dence of the Gov­ern­ment front bench over the enor­mous ex­penses she costs Aus­tralians.

It has also been re­vealed Mrs Bishop’s trip to Young was just five days af­ter she racked up $ 5227 for an 80km lux­ury he­li­copter trip be­tween Mel­bourne and Gee­long for a party fundraiser in Novem­ber, at which she dis­cussed her role as Speaker.

It can be re­vealed Mrs Bishop’s $ 811,857 ex­penses bill in­cluded; • $ 309,581 in over­seas trips • $ 47,086 in do­mes­tic trips • $ 32,471 in limousine travel • $ 350,909 in of­fice costs The Depart­ment of Fi­nance did not de­clare her two ex­tra char­ter flights be­cause they were close to the re­port­ing dead­line last year and will be in­cluded in the next set of ex­pense claims to be re­leased at the end of the year.

For­mer col­league and trea­surer Peter Costello yesterday joined the cho­rus of con­dem­na­tion for Mrs Bishop, declar­ing talk­ing about par­lia­ment did not jus­tify claim­ing a travel ex­pense.

“The rule can’t be that you can just turn up some­where and talk about par­lia­ment and then it’s jus­ti­fied,” Mr Costello said.

“I could wan­der up to some­one at a birth­day party and say, ‘ look, I’d like to tell you about the par­lia­ment’ and they’d prob­a­bly walk away from me as they nor­mally do at birth­day par­ties.”

Mrs Bishop at­tended two se­niors fo­rums on Novem­ber 22. De­spite in­creas­ing scru­tiny over her travel ex­penses, Mrs Bishop still re­tains the ab­so­lute sup­port of Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott. Mrs Bishop yesterday again de­fended her travel ex­pen­di­ture but con­ceded the trip to Gee­long was an act of “grandios­ity”.

“It was done within the en­ti­tle­ment,’’ she said.

“The fact is, when I saw that fig­ure, I thought it was too large. The taxpayers’ money has been re­paid and that’s why I did it and it is very much the best form of apol­ogy.”

Julie Bishop.

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