Bronwyn Bishop, Australian Federal Police and the Department of Finance – a terrible trio!

Posted: July 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

I have previously ranted on the subject of now former MP, Bronwyn Bishop, and some of her highly questionable expense claims.

The short version – some years back, along with her mate Tony Abbott, Bishop attended the wedding of former parliamentary colleague, Sophie Mirrabella. Abbott was caught out in late 2013 for having used his political entitlements to claim all travel and accommodation expenses for he and his wife to attend the wedding in Wangaratta, Victoria. His subsequent excuse was quite pathetic. He insisted that as he had been Manager of Opposition Business at the time (or some other grandiose title) he was entitled to assume the invitation had been to the office he held rather than to he, the individual.

Having been caught out, the newly elected PM Abbott coughed up. At the same time he encouraged other colleagues to also refund any similar claims.

Now we come to Bronwyn Bishop. When she attended the weeding, it was also the public purse that paid for her travel there and back. But Bishop seemed to have had sufficient smarts to ensure she was going to be in the general area at the time, making attendance at the wedding a convenience and nothing more, consequently there was nothing for her to cough up.

Or was there?

The Bishop story fell apart in 2015. In short, the government business she claimed to have been in Albury for, and thus a comfortable car drive away from Wangaratta, was shown to be a crock of crap. First it was ‘committee chair business’ except that the only committee Bishop was chair of, had not met outside of the metropolitan areas and nowhere near Albury. Other committee members rubbished the story. So then it became Bishop as chair visiting Albury on a research mission. More rubbishing by other committee members. Finally the story changed to being present in Albury for ‘secret meetings,’ the details of which could not be revealed. I suspect other committee members were having a good chortle over that one.

Except so far, it had worked.

The press did a damned good job pulling the entire fabrication apart. I had had enough. I referred it to the Australian Federal Police. And the AFP refused to investigate, insisting it was business for the Department of Finance. Of course they were not so scrupulous when it came to pursing Peter Slipper for potential fraudulent abuse of travel expenses, but it could be argued there was a major difference between the two cases: at the time Slipper was ex-Liberal and it was in the interests of the LNP under Abbott to see Slipper discredited and preferably removed. In contrast, Bishop was still part of the Liberal ruling elite and at least still nominally, part of the Abbott crew. Cynics could be excused for wondering if political implications had something to do with the refusal to investigate.

Eventually, with considerable misgivings, I referred the matter to the AFP’s Professional Standards Unit. I say with misgivings, as previous contact with the PSU gave every appearance of them being something like whitewash agents, out to look after their own.

The response from the PSU arrived recently. Now the story had been changed, with the Australian Federal Police expressly claiming they had not investigated my complaint against Bishop because they had instead referred it direct to the Dept of Finance. No ifs, maybes or could-bes. This was a quite direct and unequivocal statement. Except I did not believe it and referred it to the Department of Finance.

At 16:25pm today, I received email confirmation from the Department of Finance that no such referral has ever occurred.

Finance are probably in the clear because no such referral occurred. The AFP seem to think they are in the clear by passing the buck to Finance. And Bishop is probably gloating away, while still bemoaning the real crimes of this world – such as her losing her VIP parking spot at her Yacht Club.

I like to think the subject is not entirely closed off yet. Part of it is still with the Commonwealth Ombudsman. And they are not entirely innocent so far either. The officer there investigating my issue was only given one small part of my case and it was news to him that there was anything more to it. He had to ask me to give him a copy of the original submission. *headslap* And I have only very recently been alerted to the existence of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity. Early indications are that they are interested in this saga as well.

noli illegitimi carborundum

Ross sig

 

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