The speaker of Australia’s parliament, Bronwyn Bishop, spent $5227 of taxpayer funds to fly between Melbourne and Geelong to attend a Liberal Party function at a golf club.
On Wednesday morning, details of the flight in November last year emerged in The Herald Sun, in the wake of an Department of Finance audit of politicians’ expenses.
Details remained sketchy, with the speaker and her office only saying that the trip was “done in accordance with the guidelines and within entitlement”, but on Wednesday evening, photos emerged on social media of Bishop arriving at Clifton Springs Golf Club on November 5.
The tweet by golf course volunteer Neil Remeeus of Bishop’s “spectacular arrival” is below.
The Hon. Bronwyn Bishop MP, ade a spectacular arrival at Clifton Springs Golf Club on Wednesday November 5th. pic.twitter.com/t5Nqv53HKx
— Neil Remeeus (@NeilRemeeus) November 6, 2014
The 160km return trip in the chopper cost $5,227.27, while a parliament-supplied Commonwealth car would have taken around 60 minutes to make the trip and cost taxpayers around one 10th of the cost of the helicopter trip.
A spokesperson for Bishop said in a statement after the photos emerged that the speaker “seeks to fit in as many meetings and events into her schedule as is possible.
“It [is] because of her concern for the country, she works as hard as she can and wishes she could do even more.”
The speaker, as a presiding officer, is allowed to use charter transport for office holder duties only, when there are no scheduled commercial services. Any charter trips must be approved by the special minister of state Michael Ronaldson.
Bronwyn Bishop’s total expenses between July 1 to December 31, 2014 added up to nearly $400,000.
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