News National Labor: tip Bishop from chair
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Labor: tip Bishop from chair

bronwyn bishop
Bronwyn Bishop has remained defensive throughout the long expenses scandal. Photo: AAP
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Labor has vowed to do everything it can to ensure Speaker Bronwyn Bishop is no longer in the chair when parliament resumes.

The move came as Prime Minister Tony Abbott hinted a review into 10 years of Mrs Bishop’s expense claims could lead to an overhaul of rules for MPs.

The Finance Department is trawling through the Speaker’s claims after Mr Abbott referred her expenses history and Mrs Bishop apologised over the $5200 chartering of a helicopter in November last year for a Liberal fundraiser.

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Manager of opposition business Tony Burke said motions aimed at unseating the Speaker would wait until August 11 – the second day of parliament after the winter break – because the first day would be taken up with condolence motions.

“When we get to the Tuesday, I will be astonished if Bronwyn Bishop is still in the chair,” Mr Burke said on Friday.

“We will be taking every step that’s necessary to take – including supporting motions, moving motions, whatever we need to do – to make it absolutely clear that Bronwyn Bishop should not be in the chair.”

Labor waste watch spokesman Pat Conroy has written to the Special Minister of State Michael Ronaldson asking that the report on the helicopter charter be made public.

Mr Abbott said Mrs Bishop had repaid the money with penalties and was “obviously deeply remorseful”.

Any further action should wait until the Finance Department’s review was completed.

“Let’s see what else might emerge out of the review that is going on now,” he told Radio 2SM.

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the Speaker had apologised for her “errors of judgment” and had his confidence.

“I think it’s time we moved on,” he said.

However, coalition MPs are concerned the Speaker scandal is damaging the government’s chances of re-election in 2016.

Liberal backbencher Brett Whiteley has written to the Speaker expressing his Tasmanian electorate’s “anger”.

“I have written to the Speaker to inform her directly of the views of my electorate, and both their and my disappointment in the serious entitlement misjudgment,” he said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mrs Bishop’s apology was too little too late and the government should find a new Speaker who could be “respected”.

Former Labor Speaker Anna Burke said the parliamentary process was at stake.

“How does she now sit in that chair and dictate to the parliament how we all behave when her behaviour has been called in to such question?” she said.

The government has the numbers in the lower house to defeat any no-confidence motion.

– with AAP

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