Helicopter jokes aside, Bronwyn Bishop’s record makes her unfit to remain as Speaker of the House.
There’s a line in the classic film Gone With The Wind, where handsome scoundrel Rhett Butler sums up the unaware and selfish protagonist, Scarlett O’Hara to a tee.
“You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole,” he says, “But is terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail”.
Following three weeks of criticism, mounting caucus pressure and disastrous online polling, the carefully coiffed conservative has finally apologised for taking a $5000 helicopter ride from Melbourne to Geelong. In what has provided some truly brilliant cartoonist fodder during the normally dull winter break from Parliament, Bishop poo-pooed a more moderately priced Commonwealth car in favour of James Bond’s preferred mode of travel.
What’s worse is that the Speaker wasn’t even attending a parliamentary event or doing something related to her electorate; she was helping raise money for her own political party.
Oh, and she billed taxpayers for the extravagance.
Today Bishop sought out the most sympathetic audience available, appearing on Alan Jones’ 2GB program to issue an apology for her ‘error of judgement’. The usually brazen, contemptuous Bishop was a more subdued version of herself during the interview. Indeed, she sounded almost contrite while also committing to repay parliamentary entitlements claimed to attend the weddings of her political colleagues.
The emphasis here is on the ‘almost’…
Because whilst fulsome and no doubt carefully scripted, Bishop’s apology was anything but sincere.
She is not the least bit sorry for swindling the taxpaying public. She’s just embarrassed that the media caught her doing it.
Just like Scarlett O’Hara, Bronwyn Bishop’s mea culpa is more for herself than those she sinned against.
An ‘error of judgement’ is momentary and suggests a line-ball call had to be made. Like: Absentmindedly ticking the wrong box on paperwork you didn’t read closely enough. Misunderstanding technical language around what is permissible and what isn’t. Forgetting to lodge the required forms in time, despite knowing the deadline is crucial. That sort of thing.
Organising a freaking helicopter, when a $7.60 regional bus fare would get you to the same destination in roughly the same amount of time, isn’t a mere error of judgement. It’s an unprincipled disgrace.