Australia’s PM Launches Expense Inquiry, Speaker Resigns
Perth. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Sunday announced a wide-ranging inquiry into politicians’ entitlements after a scandal that plagued his government for weeks claimed the scalp of Speaker of the House Bronwyn Bishop.
Bishop, 72, a close Abbott ally and presiding officer in the lower house of parliament, tendered her resignation after being criticized for spending over A$5,000 ($3,650) in public funds to charter a helicopter to attend a fundraiser for the ruling Liberal Party.
Bishop’s resignation is the latest blow to Abbott’s government which trails the Labor opposition in opinion polls.
Abbott said that the rules governing parliamentary entitlements needed reform because there was “a significant disconnect between what is within the rules and what is in the community expectation.”
Her resignation will “help restore public respect,” Abbott told reporters in Sydney.
Bishop, whose expense claims over the past 10 years are already the subject of a Department of Finance inquiry, will retain her parliamentary seat.
The inquiry into MP entitlements will be sent to the government in the first half of next year, Abbott said.
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