One more time. So far as I can understand it, the issue is this. A 72-year old woman is the Speaker of the House. She is going to a Liberal Party function in Geelong which may be the 1000th-plus such event she has gone to. She has also flown on a helicopter before. She is not doing it for fun, it is not a “jaunt”. It is work. She may like her job, and she may like the people she meets when she gets there. She may even enjoy herself. But she is doing it as part of her job. If she weren’t a Member of Parliament, and more importantly if she weren’t the Speaker of the House, her presence would not be sought, and she could go home, put her feet up and watch the tele. She could sit in a taxi for an hour or take some pressure off her schedule and her own aged self, by taking a more expensive form of travel. She undoubtedly did not even plan the mode of travel but someone else did it for her. Maybe she shouldn’t have travelled that way, but in no way do I see this as a form of arrogance. It is only political misjudgement, since everyone seems to find it so offensive.
OK, the Labor Party, the party of waste, sees some political advantage in raising this as an issue. But why are people who would like to see the Coalition returned at the next election making such an issue of it? First it was Andrew Bolt, and then even Tim Blair and now Janet Albrechtsen. She repeats the Labor Party meme down to the finest detail:
Bishop’s pain would have involved a one-hour drive along the impressive highway from Melbourne airport to Geelong. By choosing a helicopter last November, she and the Abbott government are now feeling much worse pain: that of voter disdain and contempt.
The brouhaha is made much worse by Bishop’s imperiousness. The Speaker of the House who imposes the rules inside the house has paid little regard for the rules outside the house. So much of this stuff doesn’t just fail the sniff test. It stinks to high heaven.
If this is the biggest issue of the moment, then we really are a country blessed with good fortune. It may have been bad judgment to take the helicopter to Geelong, and certainly in retrospect that seems absolutely evident. But for a woman of her age trying to fulfil her duties, I find almost nothing there that offends me. And if anyone ought to pay for the trip, it is the Liberal Party in Geelong that invited her.