Tony Abbott: MPs cannot get away with exploiting the rules on expenses

Prime Minister Tony Abbott during House of Representatives question time at Parliament House. Photo: Stefan Postles/ Getty.

Prime minister Tony Abbott says politicians found to be misusing their expenses entitlements won’t escape retribution.

“Everyone should do the right thing… everyone should operate within the rules and I think if there is one lesson that every single politician must have had reinforced by all of this, it is that you cannot get away with exploiting the rules,” Abbott told 2SM this morning, referring to the Bronwyn Bishop’s spending scandal.

“Now, as for Bronny, she has repaid the money – with penalties – she is obviously deeply remorseful. Anyone who saw her on television yesterday would know that this is a very, very chastened person indeed,” he said adding that the Department of Finance will be reviewing expenses going back 10 years.

“Obviously if there is anything which is outside the rules it will be repaid instantly with penalties.

“I am utterly determined that the rules will be enforced,” he said.

He acknowledged that the Speakers expenses were sometimes out of his control.

“Her overseas travel doesn’t have to be approved by me. She has got a budget which she can work within.”

But said that rules around politician’s expenses and benefits had been again “significantly tightened”.

“We banned politicians travelling overseas first class, we have heavily limited family travel inside Australia and overseas, and we have banned immediate family employment.

A lot has happened and let’s see what else might emerge out of the review that is going on now,” he said.

This week Bishop apologised for her “error of judgement” but said she “won’t be resigning”.

Her use of parliamentary entitlements has been under intense scrutiny, initially sparked by a revelation that she charged taxpayers $5227 for helicopter charter between Melbourne and Geelong, which is a one-hour drive. Read more here.

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