Speaker Bronwyn Bishop has apologised to the nation for claiming numerous disputed travel entitlements, but refused to stand down.
Ms Bishop admitted an “error of judgement” on radio station 2GB on Thursday morning and swore to repay the cost of flights to the weddings of Liberal colleagues, but refused to stand down.
“I want to apologise to the Australian people for an error of judgment.
“I feel I’ve let them down.”
For almost three weeks, Ms Bishop has been criticised for multiple allowance claims, including a $5,227 taxpayer-funded helicopter flight from Melbourne to Geelong for a political fundraiser and travel to the weddings of Sophie Mirabella and Teresa Gambaro.
In Thursday’s interview, the Speaker said she would repay the wedding travel costs. The Prime Minister already forced her to agree to repay the helicopter flight.
Ms Bishop said she has asked for all her expenses to be investigated by the Finance Department.
“I know that I’ve disappointed and let down the Australian people.”
But she stood firm in the face of a campaign from Labor and lower house crossbenchers for her to stand down as speaker.
“I won’t be resigning,” she told 2GB host Alan Jones.
Asked whether it had been a mistake to not apologise when the first stories broke about her expenses three weeks ago, Mrs Bishop agreed it was.
“I wish I had,” she said.
“I feel very, very sorry that I’ve let the Australian people down.”
Labor’s respect for The Speaker ‘completely over’
Manager of Opposition business Tony Burke said on Wednesday the Labor party will no longer hold themselves back in parliament out of respect for the standing of the Speaker.
The Speaker should expect ongoing attacks when Parliament resumes in August if she does not resign, he said.
“There’s been lots of occasions where people might think the Parliament’s in chaos, but also people pull back and pull back out of respect for the office the Speaker holds.
“That’s over now. That’s completely over.
“She might be there in a big important chair, but the sense of her as being somebody respected to do that job fairly and do that job in a way that reflects on the rest of the Parliament positively is gone, completely gone.”
A handful of cabinet ministers have reportedly told Sky News and other media outlets that Ms Bishop was considering her position.
Crossbench MPs Clive Palmer and Andrew Wilkie plan to move a no-confidence motion against Ms Bishop when parliament resumes.
The ABC reported little support for the Speaker amongst the senior ministers it surveyed.
One described her position as “untenable”, another said her actions were “unconscionable”.
“Ropeable doesn’t even come close,” one minister said.
“This is week three and there is no sign of it ending. She has no support [in the party] because what she did was so unconscionable.”
On Wednesday, Leader of the House Christopher Pyne called on his Liberal colleagues to stand firm and support the Speaker.
“I think Bronwyn Bishop is doing a superb job.”
– with ABC and AAP