‘ Sorry’ Bishop fails to silence her critics
TONY Abbott has ordered a forensic examination of Bronwyn Bishop’s decades- old travel expense claims after the federal parliamentary Speaker was forced into a grovelling apology yesterday.
The embattled Speaker apologised for her “error of judgment” for charging the public $ 5000 for a luxury helicopter trip and expenses claimed to attend at least three colleagues’ weddings.
As pressure built on the Prime Minister from senior colleagues to remove the veteran from her federal parliamentary role, Ms Bishop said sorry to voters.
“I want to apologise to the Australian people for my error of judgment and to say sorry,” the Speaker said.
“I love this country and I feel very, very sorry that I’ve let the Australian people down.
“Therefore I will be working very hard to ensure that I can again make sure that things are being done and look right as well as being right.”
But her future in the chair remains in doubt, with many Coalition colleagues believing her apology had come too late.
Some believe the scandal has done permanent damage to the Abbott Government in marginal electorates.
Ms Bishop agreed to repay the $ 5227, plus a fine of $ 1300, for her chopper flight in November last year for a Victorian election campaign fundraiser at Clifton Spring Golf Club.
In the past week News Corp has revealed she claimed travel allowances to attend the 2007 wedding of Liberal MP Teresa Gambaro in Brisbane and the 1999 wedding of Liberal powerbroker Michael Kroger to Anne Peacock.
She had previously refused to repay $ 600 of travel costs to fly from Sydney to Albury to attend the wedding of former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella in Wangaratta.
Ms Bishop said she has asked Mr Abbott to have the Department of Finance inquiry into all her previous travel expenses and agreed to repay costs for “all the weddings”. Three of her charter flights attend party fundraising
to events are investigated.
Ms Bishop, who had previously refused to say sorry, conceded she “should have said it” earlier.
Government frontbenchers Joe Hockey, Kelly O’Dwyer and Paul Fletcher offered lukewarm support for Ms Bishop yesterday.
She is likely to face a vote of no confidence in the House of Representatives when it returns next month.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said Ms Bishop was “only saying sorry to save her job”.