Bishop put on no­tice by PM

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­NIKA SMETHURST

PRIME Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott has placed Speaker Bron­wyn Bishop on “pro­ba­tion” af­ter she spent thou­sands of tax­payer dol­lars on char­tered flights to Lib­eral Party fundrais­ers.

Ms Bishop has come un­der fire af­ter News Corp Aus­tralia re­vealed she billed taxpayers $ 5200 for a he­li­copter flight from Mel­bourne to Gee­long last Novem­ber.

Five days later, Ms Bishop took a sec­ond char­tered flight to a party fundraiser in the NSW town of Young.

Mr Ab­bott said he was un­happy about Ms Bishop’s ac­tions, which he de­scribed as “a se­ri­ous lapse of judg­ment”.

“I can re­ally un­der­stand why peo­ple are un­happy about this. Frankly, I’m un­happy about it as well,” Mr Ab­bott said.

“Ob­vi­ously the ac­tion she was re­spon­si­ble for, with the he­li­copter, was out of line ... like ev­ery­one who has done some­thing like this, in­evitably for a pe­riod of time they are on pro­ba­tion.”

De­spite the Speaker pri­vately los­ing the sup­port of many of her col­leagues, Mr Ab­bott stood by his po­lit­i­cal men­tor yesterday say­ing she had “copped a jus­ti­fi­able hid­ing”.

But Ms Bishop, who has agreed to re­pay $ 5200 plus a $ 1300 penalty for the he­li­copter trip, could still be pushed from her role with La­bor con­sid­er­ing a no- con­fi­dence mo­tion when Par­lia­ment re­sumes in Au­gust. One La­bor source told News Corp Aus­tralia the party would use “ev­ery tool at our dis­posal” to knock Ms Bishop out of the Speaker’s chair.

More se­nior mem­bers of the Coali­tion dis­tanced them­selves from the saga yesterday, with So­cial Ser­vices Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son sug­gest­ing he would have apol­o­gised if in­volved in a sim­i­lar ex­penses scan­dal.

And As­sis­tant In­fra­struc­ture Min­is­ter Jamie Briggs said at­tend­ing a party fundraiser on a tax­payer- funded flight wasn’t a rea­son­able use of en­ti­tle­ments. “For me, I wouldn’t do it,” he said.

La­bor has writ­ten to Mr Ab­bott seek­ing clar­i­fi­ca­tion on Ms Bishop’s pro­ba­tion, ask­ing how long it will last and what penal­ties will ap­ply if she breaches any con­di­tions.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten said Ms Bishop had to re­sign.

“Tony Ab­bott needs to show some courage, demon­strate some lead­er­ship, and tell Bron­wyn Bishop that it’s time to go,” Mr Shorten said.

“Ev­ery day this saga goes on, Bron­wyn Bishop’s po­si­tion is in­creas­ingly un­ten­able and now it would ap­pear that Mr Ab­bott is dig­ging him­self a hole, too.”

But Mr Shorten is now un­der fire for a travel claim he made dur­ing the fi­nal days of La­bor’s 2013 lead­er­ship cam­paign when he billed taxpayers more than a thou­sand dol­lars to at­tend an ALP fundraiser.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.