Tony Abbott suggests rules for politician expenses should be similar to the private sector

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As federal MPs head back to Canberra following the winter recess, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been busy defending entitlement claims by politicians.

Earlier this morning, Abbott appeared on Nine Network saying that MPs should work within the same entitlement rules as those in the private sector.

The comments were made in response to fresh reports by News Corp which revealed that Treasurer Joe Hockey had spent $14,000 flying his family on business class from Sydney to Perth during the school holidays.

Here’s what he said:

“The point is that obviously there are things which have been inside the rules, but they’ve been outside community expectations, and the point that I’m making is that the sorts of things that would be inappropriate for people in business should likewise be not something that members of parliament do.”

Both sides of parliament have faced backlash in recent weeks over travel entitlements sparked by the “helicopter expenses scandal” by former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bronwyn Bishop.

Bishop, who was hand-picked by Abbott in 2013, became the topic of public scrutiny after audit reports by the Department of Finance revealed she had spent $5000 on a taxpayer-funded helicopter flight from Melbourne to Geelong.

The recent saga has been a test of Abbott’s leadership with a Fairfax poll today showing that Abbott was lagging behind Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, as the preferred Prime Minister with Shorten leading at 58.5 per cent to 41.5 per cent.

But Abbott says that he is confident the public will have more confidence in their MPs with the introduction of a root and branch reforms of politicians’ expenses.

Parliament will elect for a new Speaker when it resumes on Monday.

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