Wednesday 7 December 2016

Australian speaker Bronwyn Bishop resigns following accusations over extravagant expenses

Published 02/08/2015 | 18:17

Speaker of the House of Representatives Bronwyn Bishop listens to a speech in Australia's Parliament House in Canberra in this picture taken November 17, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray
Speaker of the House of Representatives Bronwyn Bishop listens to a speech in Australia's Parliament House in Canberra in this picture taken November 17, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray
In this Sept. 10, 2014 file photo, Bronwyn Bishop, speaker of Australia's House of Representatives, shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as they pose for photos before their talks at Abe's office in Tokyo. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Speaker of the House of Representatives Bronwyn Bishop shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping after he spoke in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra in this picture taken November 17, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray

The speaker of Australia's House of Representatives has resigned following weeks of accusations that she used taxpayer money to pay for extravagant and unnecessary travel.

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Bronwyn Bishop has faced fierce criticism since it emerged last month that she spent more than 5,000 Australian dollars (£2336) to charter a helicopter for an 50-mile trip to a golf course to attend a fundraiser for the ruling Liberal Party, rather than drive the 90-minute route.

Bishop subsequently apologised for what she called the "ridiculous" expense and repaid the money. But scrutiny over her other travel expenses continued, including claims that she charged taxpayers for travel costs associated with trips to attend weddings; she later said she would repay those expenses as well.

Sydney's Daily Telegraph today reported that she used more than 260,000 AUS dollars of taxpayers' money (£121,495) over the past five years to be driven around in chauffeured cars, limousines and private-plated vehicles.

In this Sept. 10, 2014 file photo, Bronwyn Bishop, speaker of Australia's House of Representatives, shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as they pose for photos before their talks at Abe's office in Tokyo. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool Photo via AP, File)
In this Sept. 10, 2014 file photo, Bronwyn Bishop, speaker of Australia's House of Representatives, shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as they pose for photos before their talks at Abe's office in Tokyo. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool Photo via AP, File)

The Finance Department is investigating whether she violated any rules.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who announced Bishop's resignation, said there would be a review of lawmaker entitlements in the wake of the scandal.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Bronwyn Bishop shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping after he spoke in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra in this picture taken November 17, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray
Speaker of the House of Representatives Bronwyn Bishop shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping after he spoke in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra in this picture taken November 17, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray

"It won't just be tinkering with the system," he told reporters. "Plainly, the system that we have is deficient. The public deserves to be absolutely confident taxpayers' money is not being abused."

Bishop said her resignation was effective immediately. She will continue to serve as a lawmaker for the ruling conservative party, representing her local district.

"I have not taken this decision lightly," Bishop said in a statement. "It is because of my love and respect for the institution of parliament and the Australian people that I have resigned as Speaker."

Bishop had served as speaker since 2013. 

Press Association

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