Speaker Bronwyn Bishop has reportedly cancelled a planned taxpayer-funded trip to New York amid the ongoing controversy over her travel claims.
It’s reported Mrs Bishop recently decided not to attend the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Mrs Bishop has been under pressure after revelations she spent more than $5,000 chartering a helicopter from Melbourne to Geelong in November to attend a Liberal Party fundraiser.
Yesterday the Speaker’s office refused to comment on reports Mrs Bishop also spent $6,000 chartering a plane for a 160-kilometre trip from Sydney to Nowra last year.
The Speaker has also been criticised for claiming $600 in flights to travel to Albury on business related to her role in 2006; but it is understood she also went to Wangaratta to attend Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella’s wedding.
Mrs Bishop apologised for the chopper ride and paid back the money, as well as money claimed for attending a colleagues’ wedding.
The Finance Department is currently investigating her use of charter flights and other entitlement claims over the past decade.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has declared his support for Mrs Bishop and said she should be allowed to “fix up” her mistakes and “get on with the job”.
“I think in this game, as you would know, when you start throwing rocks there won’t be a person left in the Parliament ’cause everybody will have some issues somewhere in the past that is difficult to explain.”
But Federal MP Clive Palmer said he plans to move a no confidence motion against the Speaker with fellow crossbencher Andrew Wilkie when Parliament resumes in a week’s time.
Mr Palmer said Mrs Bishop deserved to lose her position because she had lost the trust of the Australian people and was not an independent Speaker.
“If she can’t run her entitlements, how can Abbott run the country, that’s what people are saying,” Mr Palmer told the ABC’s Insiders program.
“The Prime Minister’s got to make a decision, is he going to back Bronwyn Bishop and if he does that’s the end of his prime ministership because that’s really thumbing his nose at the Australian people.”
Mr Palmer, a multi-millionaire, also offered the Liberal Party the use of his private air fleet.
“I’d like to make any one of my five jets or my helicopter available to the Liberal Party to charter and not use taxpayers’ money.”
Several Coalition MPs have privately suggested Mrs Bishop’s position is untenable.