The helicopter trip from Melbourne to Geelong on 5 November 2014, that cost Australian taxpayers $5,227.27, marked the end of Bronwyn Bishop’s position as Speaker for the House of Representatives. After weeks of media attention concerning her abuse of her entitlements, Mrs Bishop whom served as a public servant for the past 30 years, resigned 2nd August 2015.
According to the Guardian, Mrs Bishop said that she had booked her travel arrangements through her office, and when the financials were published on the helicopter flight, and she saw how high the bill was, she had offered to pay for it saying that it was too high an amount (Evershed and Jabour, 2015).
In response to published financials, Mrs Bishop’s fellow parliamentarians have demonstrated their disappointment. Treasurer Joe Hockey stated that it wasn’t a good look. He said that Mrs Bishop needed to explain the matter further (Medhora, 2015). Whereas Opposition Leader Bill Shorten explained that Mrs Bishop should resign and nothing less than that is good enough (Medhora, 2015).
To the Taxpayer $5,227.27 is a significant amount of money, especially for a helicopter flight distance that is equivalent to an hour car ride. However it is important to put into perspective that other politicians charge their travel expenses to the tax payer, don’t offer to pay for them and certainly don’t offer their resignation.
An article released by the Guardian (Evershed and Jabour, 2015) 6 July 2015 reported how MPs had claimed more than $27,000 in expenses while attending free sports events, and all without any plans to make payments towards such expenses.
There seems to be a discrepancy in the way certain members of parliament are treated in accordance to travel expenses, and to illustrate, this parody that was released by ABC’S Insiders, Huw Parkinson (Parkinson, 2015), shows Mrs. Bishop re-imagined into the US comedy Arrested Development.
This amount of scrutiny hasn’t been put upon a male politician over such matters. However as Mrs Bishop steps away from her position as Speaker, and Mr Tony Smith is now finding his way in the House of Representatives, reflection on whether this is an issue for female’s in politics, or a fault in the system.
Evershed, N and Jabour, B 2015, ‘MPs claim more than $27,000 in expenses while attending free sports events’, The Guardian, 6 July, viewed 11 August 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jul/06/mps-claim-more-than-27000-on-flights-travel-and-comcars-to-free-sports-events.
Medhora, S 2015, ‘Bronwyn Bishop: formidable political warrior who walked a rocky road’, The Guardian, 2 August, viewed 6 August 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/aug/02/bronwyn-bishop-formidable-political-warrior-has-walked-a-rocky-road
Parkinson, H 2015, ‘Bronwyn Bishop reimagined as scandal-prone mother in Arrested Development parody – video’, The Guardian, 10 August, viewed 11 August 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/video/2015/aug/10/parody-bronwyn-bishop-scandal-arrested-development-insiders-video?CMP=embed_video.