Shorten renews calls to sack Bishop over choppergate
EMBATTLED Speaker Bronwyn Bishop is said to be 'considering her position' amid speculation Labor will use the choppergate expense scandal to target Tony Abbott.
Julie Bishop, speaking from New York, said Ms Bishop would consider the impact of the ongoing issue on the LNP as the Department of Finance investigated numerous allegations.
News Corp reported on Wednesday that Bronwyn Bishop claimed travel allowance to attend federal Liberal MP Teresa Gambaro's wedding in 2007.
Labor vowed to call out the absurdity of the Speaker's position, if she remains in the chair by the time Parliament resumes next month.
Mrs Bishop is already under fire for billing taxpayers for airfares to rural Victoria to attend the wedding of former federal Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella in 2006.
The Speaker's office has defended the claiming of entitlements at the time of both weddings, citing meetings with anonymous figures relating to parliamentary committee work, but is refusing to reveal who Mrs Bishop met.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Wednesday there was no doubt the issue would dominate Parliament when it resumes on Monday week.
"I understand that the Labor party will seek to use this to destabilise question time for example and I'm sure Speaker Bishop will take that into account as she considers her position," Ms Bishop told the Nine Network's Today program.
"But I believe it's important the Department of Finance be able to carry out an investigation," she added.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten called on Tony Abbott to sack Ms Bishop.
"I think it's time that Mr Abbott explained to Ms Bishop that her position is not sustainable. It hasn't been tenable. I think it's now time perhaps for the coalition to look at putting in a more reasonable face, someone who'd respect the independence of the Speaker's position, so we can restore the standard of parliamentary democracy in this country,'' he told reporters on Wednesday morning.
Mr Shorten said Mr Abbott and Ms Bishop have been disrupting the standing of Parliament by their very poor handling of the Choppergate issues around Ms Bishop using taxpayer money.
"Labor does not believe that the Speaker's position is tenable.
"We've seen no hint at all in the last two weeks and like most Australians I think people have been just shocked that they don't seem to get it.
"This is a test of Mr Abbott's leadership. He needs to act. This soap opera just needs to finish. Mr Abbott made a captain's pick by putting Bronwyn Bishop in.
"Now we need to get someone far more reasonable from the ranks of the coalition."
When pressed on whether Labor would disrupt the Parliament, Mr Shorten said: "Labor doesn't disrupt the Parliament. That's why I don't agree with the use of the word disrupt."
"But we will stand up for standards of parliamentary democracy. This scandal, with the Speaker, the ongoing expenses saga, is really undermining people's confidence.
"Mr Abbott has failed the test of leadership for two weeks. Now this matter just has to finish. It is a complete overshadowing of all the important issues we're dealing with like renewable energy and the future of this country.
Mr Shorten was questioned about his own expenses, including claiming fights to attend an ALP fundraiser at the same time as attending a union meeting.
"Let's not try and conflate every politician with Mrs Bishop and Mr Abbott's conduct here,'' he replied.
"This is the Speaker of the Parliament, who got a helicopter, who drove in from Tullamarine airport to Docklands, to get a fancy top of the range helicopter down to Geelong to do a party fundraiser.
"And we've seen ever since then, the government hasn't tried to deal with the issue.
They've just tried to pretend the issue hasn't occurred. This is a big issue and more importantly, it's a test of Mr Abbott's leadership."