Opinion: Captain made a bad call keeping Speaker

OPINION: "In order to preserve the respect and the reputation of the Parliament, in order to preserve the integrity of the government and our institutions, it is very important that the Prime Minister act swiftly to require the Speaker to step down."

These are not the words of Bill Shorten, but are yet another example of the double standards of Captain Vitriol, Tony Abbott, while in opposition.

He was on about "allegations against the incumbent Speaker - allegations of potentially criminal misuse of entitlements".

The time was April 2012, the words a doorstop press conference, the target Peter Slipper, the heinous "criminal misuse of entitlements" $900 spent on visits to wineries charged to the taxpayer.

Our current Speaker Bronwyn Bishop is a scourge on our Parliament, the respect in which it is held, its reputation and the integrity of the government and our institutions.

But in an arrogant display of disregard for the respect and reputation of our Parliament, and of the integrity of the government and our institutions, our captain has made yet another disgraceful captain's call and let the woman keep her job.

This woman has had the sheer audacity to charge a chopper flight to a private Liberal Party fundraising bash to the taxpayer - a journey of just 80km by road - at a cost of not $900 but $5200.

Then follow that five days later with another flight of 160km to attend yet another private Liberal Party fundraising bash.

The Courier Mail last week published an expose on just what this hypocrite has cost you and me since becoming speaker.

Hypocrite, too strong?

Absolutely not. She forged her reputation in Howard government days in Senate budget estimate hearings.

She came across as a fierce and uncompromising Senator-warrior, holding squirming public servants to account for every last cent of expenditure.

In the current Parliament she pontificates endlessly about "lifters and leaners" - and I don't think she is talking about how appropriate it is for the Speaker to lift dough from the public purse.

Back to the expose.

Deeming her Bron Perignon, the paper listed the gifts she has received: 28 tickets to concerts, shows and sporting events, 12 bottles of top-class scotch, a bottle of vintage red, two bottles of Dom Perignon, seven bottles of mixed spirits, 24 bottles of white, 24 more bottles of red, a Tiffany pen, and return Emirates first class flights to Casablanca ($14,000) plus two nights' accommodation for two.

Nice job, if you can get it.

She hasn't blinked, nor apparently has Abbott.

Since being elevated to the Speaker's chair, she has racked up more than $300,000 in overseas travel, $47,000 in domestic travel, $32,400 in limousine travel and $350,000 in office costs.

One two-week jaunt to Europe for herself and two staffers cost an amazing $90,000, including $1000 a day on limousines.

Well worth her $351,000 salary isn't she?

Maybe so, if you're a thick-skinned Coalition supporter who's comfortable with her blatant, partisan favouritism in Parliament.

As I said, Bishop is a scourge on our Parliament and shouldn't be there.



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