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Bronwyn Bishop's Tax-Payer Expense Scandals

Updated: Jan 18, 2023

Bronwyn Bishop is a former Federal Parliamentarian having served for more than 30 years, the longest period of service by any Australian woman. She is a member of the Liberal Party and was Speaker of the House of Representatives from 2013 to 2015. She was embroiled in several tax-payer expense scandals in 2015 which led to her resignation.

Bronwyn Bishop addressing a press conference with the text "Bronwyn Bishop" foregrounded.

"Choppergate" Helicopter Expenses Scandal

On the 5th of November 2014, Ms. Bishop used a chartered helicopter flight to travel from Melbourne to Geelong and back to attend a Liberal Party fundraiser and claimed the trip, totaling $5227.27, at tax-payer expense. The journey typically takes roughly an hour each by road.

Ms. Bishop described the claim as an "error of judgement" and agreed to return the cost of the flight and received a penalty of $1307:

“Whilst my understanding is that this travel was conducted within the rules, to avoid any doubt I will reimburse the costs.”
"I am disappointed that it's taken the heat off Mr Shorten and his double carbon tax paper. I haven't noticed too much attention being paid to that and I'm sorry this has distracted from that."

Adam Gartrell for the Sydney Morning Herald was critical of Ms. Bishop's sentiments:

"Bronwyn Bishop is sorry. But not for treating taxpayers with contempt. She's not sorry about chartering a chopper at taxpayer expense to attend a Liberal Party fundraiser. No, she admits that was an "error of judgement" but she doesn't intend to apologise. She's not sorry about her more general pattern of profligacy either. No, she's sorry only that the media storm engulfing her for the past five days has distracted people from the woes of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Labor."

The Liberal Party defended Ms. Bishop's actions by directing attention to a standard government form for charter certification for parliament’s presiding officers which states “office holders may use charter transport (including aircraft, helicopters and other vehicles) for their personal transport in connection with their office holder duties”.

Almost $100,000 Claimed in Pursuit of New Position

In July 2015 it was revealed that Ms. Bishop had ran for the presidency of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a political organisation based in Geneva, in October of 2021.

During the fortnight leading up to the In the two weeks leading up to the presidential vote within the Union, Ms. Bishop had taken a small team traveling through Europe (Italy, Belgium, Australia and then Switzerland). The trip totaled over $88,000 according to the Department of Finance. This included $14,000 for transport used by the group over the two weeks. A source involved with the trip revealed to the Sydney Morning Herald stated: "There was a black BMW carting her around like royalty...She wasn't about to take her eight-inch heels on the subway."

Ms. Bishop's spokesman, Damien Jones, had previously revealed to News Corp that Ms. Bishop "preferred taking Royale Limousines, a company that uses BMWs, because they can drive in the bus lane, allowing her to get around quicker than if she took commonwealth cars."

Sources & Further Reading

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