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'Everyone on the inside knows Bronwyn Bishop is only the tip of the iceberg.'

And it’s the iceberg keeping the wine chilled at Parliament House.

The Bronwyn Bishop saga has brought a whole new meaning to the term ‘BB Cream.’ Tony Abbott did his best to provide the sunblock and hide the blemishes, but in the end, BB has been creamed… Bronwyn Bishop has resigned as Speaker.

So the most polished woman in politics will no longer be queen of the Parliamentary chamber. So that’s it, right? The punishment fits the crime and the problem is solved? No way. This is just the beginning. And so it should be.

The Prime Minister has declared a “root and branch review” into politicians’ entitlements. Most say it’s an announcement Mr Abbott should have made weeks ago, when BB’s penchant for maximum travel comfort was first exposed. I say it’s an announcement that could and SHOULD have been made by multiple Prime Ministers years ago, even decades ago.

Bronwyn Bishop announced her resignation as Speaker yesterday.

The person who’s made the most sense on the Speaker’s high rolling transport fetish is the social hand grenade of the far right, Mr Barnaby Joyce, “You start throwing rocks and there won’t be a person left in Parliament, because everyone will have some issue somewhere.” Touché’ BJ! Touché’!

Independent Nick Xenophon is also on the money (so to speak). “This is not about Bishop – it’s about taxpayers being treated as pawns by both sides.”

And, as a taxpayer, there’s something else you should know – politicians aren’t the only ones hopping on the gravy train. Confession time:

As a simple girl from country Queensland on a junior journo wage, my first taste of wine came from a goon bag and my idea of a cheese platter was a cheap camembert, a few green grapes and a couple of Jatz crackers. Boy, did that change when I entered the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

Barnaby Joyce and Nick Xenophon have both commented on the scandal.

I quickly learnt the difference between a shiraz and a pinot noir, as well as which quince pastes team best with the right vintage cheddar. This new found love of fine dining was courtesy of the many functions I attended hosted by both sides of Government, many of which were on the taxpayer’s dime.

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One of my favourite political commentator’s Malcom Farr put it best, “Bronwyn Bishop is a surrogate for the feeling people have for all politicians.” He’s right, but if we journos hop on our soap boxes about the perks of Parliament, we need to take some responsibility ourselves. I’ve lost count of the number of political parties I’ve attended where I know the chicken kiev certainly didn’t come from a frozen Home Brand box.

Politicians are out of touch, and so are many political reporters. Bronwyn Bishop is an easy target.

“Bronwyn Bishop is an easy target.”

My point is, take it from someone who’s worked inside Parliament House. Everyone has their hand in the honey pot. No matter who you are or where you come from, it’s almost impossible not to get a little drunk on power. It starts with an innocent gin and tonic during a flight on the PM’s private jet. Next thing you know, you’re sipping Moet and eating caviar canapé’s at a private garden party at Kirribilli.

Bronwyn Bishop’s transport bonanza is a small speed bump on a very rocky road. Don’t get me wrong, I think our politicians need to be paid well. Like them or not, the majority work very long hours. I’m quite happy for them to travel business class when they represent our great nation and I’m down with them having sweet superannuation packages. But I’m pretty certain there are millions upon millions of dollars to be saved if everyone takes a small haircut with their pollie perks.

So as a journalist, what is my duty here? As a voter, what is your duty? Our responsibility is this: any time anyone from any political persuasions publicly parade their deep concerns for education, health care, the homeless, welfare reform or a budget surplus ever seeing the light of day, there’s a pretty clear cut area where they can trim the fat.

If we have a government that’s made a slogan out of telling Australian’s “we need to live within our means,” surely that responsibility starts at the very top.

What do you think about the spending habits of politicians? 

For more on Bronwyn  Bishop, try these stories:

Bronwyn Bishop resigns as Speaker after pressure over expense claims.

“Bronwyn Bishop isn’t sorry for what she did. She’s just sorry she got caught.”

8 much better ways to spend Bronwyn Bishop’s travel money.

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