Dear Prime Minister,
Can you explain to us what it means: “on probation”?
You must sack her because she is still saying that she did nothing wrong!
Unity Party WA
Save the trees – Please use email
UPWA is the only political Party that calls a spade a spade.
Bronwyn Bishop’s expensive love affair with charter flights began nearly two decades ago
Date – July 21, 2015 – 10:06AM – James Massola
Bronwyn Bishop’s love affair with charter flights began nearly two decades ago when she was a junior minister in the Howard government, with the now Speaker amassing a near $140,000 bill over four years.
The $139,196.01 outlay is close to seven times the amount spent by two other then-junior ministers — Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey — on charter flights in the same January 1998 to December 2001 period.
Mrs Bishop was junior defence minister in 1998 and spent $20,961.18 in that period. After the October election that year, she served as minister for aged care and spent $118,234.83 before being sent to the backbench in November 2001 after the election.
In contrast Mr Abbott, who served as parliamentary secretary for employment through 1998 and was then promoted to be employment minister from late 1998 to November 2001, spent $24,420.14 in the same four year period on charter flights.
And Mr Hockey, who entered the ministry as financial services minister in October 1998 and served in the role until November 2001, spent $20,202.80 on charter flights.
The figures are based on publicly available documents and do not cover the first 18 months of spending by the trio, in the first term of the Howard government, because the details of individual flights by ministers were not reported at this time.
Fairfax Media does not suggest that Mrs Bishop’s use of these ministerial charter flights was outside the rules that govern the use of entitlements, or that the flights involved travel to a Liberal Party fundraiser, as the notorious $5227 helicopter charter flight from Melbourne to Geelong revealed last week did.
But the spending demonstrates Mrs Bishop’s penchant for charter flights — the cost of domestic commercial flights or special purpose flights operated by the RAAF has not been included — and will place further pressure on the embattled Speaker.
The Prime Minister rebuked his Speaker on Monday, describing her as “on probation” and said he was “unhappy” about the ongoing scandal, for which Mrs Bishop had “copped a justifiable hiding”.
“I can really understand why people are unhappy about this,” Mr Abbott said. “Frankly, I’m unhappy about it as well.”
“She has been a strong Speaker … she has been a strong servant of our country, she has been a good servant of the Coalition and so she does have my confidence, but like everyone who has done something like this, inevitably, for a period of time, they are on probation.”
His comments came amid mounting unhappiness with Mrs Bishop within Liberal ranks over the matter which, as Mr Hockey has pointed out, has sucked the oxygen out of the government’s economic message.
Social Services Minister Scott Morrison suggested he would have apologised if involved in an expenses scandal like Mrs Bishop’s.
“When I had an error in one of my own arrangements … and it came to my attention, I fixed it and I made that sort of a statement,” Mr Morrison said on 2GB radio.
Mrs Bishop is under intense pressure over the $5227 helicopter charter flight to a Liberal Party fundraiser, her refusal to apologise for that extravagance, and an $88,000 two-week trip to Europe.
The Finance Department is now examining her helicopter flight from Melbourne to a golf course near Geelong, and two flights to the NSW towns of Nowra and Young.
And Mrs Bishop is facing further difficulty when Parliament resumes on August 10, with Labor strategists planning an immediate no-confidence motion in a move designed to blast the Speaker out of the chair.
“That [a no-confidence motion] is one of the tools available. It will be impossible for the government to advance any other issues until they resolve this one,” one senior MP said.
“Once they know what procedures we are set upon, they can prevent it, so we haven’t settled on tactics yet.”
A no-confidence motion in the Speaker is expected to fail because of the government’s big majority, but it will maintain pressure on Mrs Bishop and ensure that her use of entitlements remains the subject of public debate.
Late on Monday, manager of opposition business Tony Burke wrote to Mr Abbott asking him to spell out what the impact of Mrs Bishop’s probation would be on the parliament.
Mr Burke asked how long her probation would run for and whether it would impact on the Finance department’s investigation.
“Given there is no Parliamentary precedent that I am aware of for the Speaker of the House of Representatives to be placed on probation, I ask that you provide further information to clarify how being on probation will impact on the Speaker’s authority over Parliament House and the House,” he wrote.
He also asked what it would mean for her role when Parliament resumed, whether it changed her entitlement reporting responsibilities and whether it affected her salary.
Asked about her spending while a minister in the Howard government, a spokesman for Mrs Bishop said “the Speaker as a minister used all entitlements inside the rules. That figure [of $140,000] is exceptionally less than Mr Tony Burke, who spent between 2008 and 2013 more than $316,000”.
The spokesman confirmed payment had been sent to the Finance Department for the helicopter charter but said that now that Finance was reviewing the two other flights to Nowra and Young, “it is not appropriate for the Speaker or our office to provide further commentary whilst this process is under way”.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pressed Mr Abbott to “show courage and leadership” and order Mrs Bishop to quit.
“When Tony Abbott was opposition leader he was all about talking about standards of performance and accountability. Now he’s the Prime Minister he seems to be missing in action,” he said
On Monday the Seven Network raised questions over Mr Shorten charging taxpayers more than $1200 for flights and Commonwealth car hire to attend a party fundraising event in Sydney during the ALP leadership contest in October 2013.
A spokesman for the Opposition Leader said Mr Shorten, who was industrial relations spokesman at the time, travelled to Sydney to speak at the Maritime Union of Australia’s National Council, and remained for the fundraiser.
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Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/bronwyn-bishops-expensive-love-affair-with-charter-flights-began-nearly-two-decades-ago-20150721-gigbmu.html#ixzz3gU7rNSbv