Bishop saga: Tony Abbott should have fixed system by now
FIVE years ago, the alarm bells should have been ringing for Tony Abbott about MPs travel expenses.
It was then, during the 2010 election campaign, that Mr Abbott was asked about the extraordinary travel expenses of then Sunshine Coast MP Peter Slipper.
Mr Abbott's reply was to back Mr Slipper, saying it was 'fair and reasonable' that travel expenses be paid for Mr Slipper's travel between the Sunshine Coast and Canberra.
"I'm satisfied (Mr Slipper) has acted within his entitlements. My understanding is that he's acted within his entitlements."
This came from a man who was pledging to cut the waste if elected.
Five years later, and he's done nothing to address the issue.
Until yesterday, and only after the political scalp of his friend and Speaker Bronwyn Bishop.
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Mr Abbott claims it has only been in recent days that failures within the system have been exposed.
Of course, he is deluding himself.
The problems have been going on for years.
We have had a series of MPs, on both sides of the political fence, who have routinely abused the public purse for their own private gain.
We've had MPs who have gone on great European vacations, under the guise of a study tour of parliaments, every year.
Taxpayers have a right to ask - where is the return on investment? Where is the bang for buck?
At a time when the Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has declared the 'Age of Entitlement' over for welfare recipients, many Australians are asking when that age will be over for our MPs.
We can't have a situation where MPs like Peter Slipper are allowed to spend more than $75,000 in six months on airfares, private car hire, Com Cars, hire cars and taxis.
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The rot has to stop.
But the only way it will stop is if there is proper and ongoing scrutiny of expense claims.
Limits must be set.
Expenses must be directly related to the performance of an MPs' duties.
And the system of self-assessment must come to an end.
Only then, will we see some public confidence restored in MPs and Ministers and the institution of Parliament itself.
Otherwise, Bronwyn Bishop will go down in history as someone who fell on the political sword for nothing.
And Tony Abbott will go down as the PM who was given an opportunity not once, but twice, to fix a broken system - and failed.