Former speaker and MP Bronwyn Bishop says she “did nothing wrong” after paying back more than $6700 she claimed for going to three weddings and a funeral during her time in politics.
Bishop resigned as the House of Representatives speaker in August 2015 after billing taxpayers more than $5000 to take a helicopter 80km from Melbourne to Geelong for a Liberal party fundraiser. The incident led then PM Tony Abbott to order an investigation into her travel expenses. She pledged to “co-operate fully”.
Yesterday, Melbourne’s Herald Sun published details of the August 2016 report, which revealed that soon after she lost pre-selection for her Sydney-based seat last year, she stopped co-operating with the Department of Finance investigation, handing over only three of the 10 years of expenses they wished to assess.
Bishop was the MP for Mackellar for 24 years.
“As the department is reliant on information provided by Ms Bishop to fulfil its role in the exercise, no further assessment is possible in relation to the incomplete seven years,” the report said.
The details for some of the travel was also found to be “non-specific and generic”, describing them as “stakeholder meetings and participate in events”.
And while Bishop repaid nearly $5250 in claims for attending the weddings of Liberal MPs Sophie Mirabella, Peter Slipper, and Teresa Gambaro, she did not believe she broke any rules.
Slipper, who preceded Bishop as speaker after defecting from the Liberals, was convicted of misusing Cabcharge dockets to visit wineries around Canberra in 2010, but subsequently had three convictions for dishonesty overturned and dismissed.
Bishop also repaid the cost of chauffeur cars to attend Kerry Packer’s funeral, all up reimbursing taxpayers for 11 trips over three years, including flights and Comcar use, along with a 25% penalty. She subsequently told the department she’d reviewed her other travel and concluded it met “community standards”.
Last night on Sky News, Bishop launched a defence of her time in parliament, pointing the finger at the Victorian Labor government’s recent expenses scandal and claiming there was “one rule for those on the conservative side and another rule for socialists”.
“Just gimme a break here, I did nothing wrong. None of any of that had anything to do with my greed or my pleasure,” she said.
Here’s a clip from the discussion. Bishop is now a paid commentator on Sky News.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) March 29, 2017
As a retired MP, Bishop, 74, now receives a taxpayer-funded pension of $255,000 annually.
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