In a stunning 24 hours for Bronwyn Bishop, the parliamentary speaker has finally promised to pay back the $5,000 it cost tax payers to fund a private helicopter ride between Melbourne and Geelong.
Yesterday, the Herald Sun revealed that Bishop (who acts as the independent parliamentary speaker) had caught the chopper from Melbourne and landed on the Clifton Springs golf course to attend a Liberal party fundraiser last year.
The trip from Melbourne to Geelong is approximately 100kms and takes less than an hour to drive.
Until today she had defended the move. "The Speaker had a number of meetings during her visit to Victoria and always seeks to fit in as many meetings and events into her schedule as is possible," said Bishop's office to ABC News.
There were even some within her own party who asked for a please explain.
Smelling blood in the water, Labor leader Bill Shorten labelled Bishop's jaunt as "colossally arrogant" and said it's evidence of a "out-of-touch... government who are cutting the incomes of vulnerable Australians, yet at the same time they're wafting around above our heads in tax-payer funded helicopters."
And just after midday on Thursday, Bishop backed down and promised to repay the money.
In the interest of providing politicians with some alternate and cheaper modes of transport that may pass Hockey's "sniff test", here's some simple ways to get from Melbourne to Geelong.
1. The bus.
The SkyBus from Melbourne Airport to Southern Cross station will set you back $18. Then it's $11.80 for a daily fare which'll get you to Geelong bus terminal. Then catch the 61 bus that takes you past Clifford Springs.
All up you're looking at about $50 return, which is about 100 times less than catching a private helicopter.
2. Hiring a V8 Holden Caprice.
Getting the top-of-the-line car from AVIS Melbourne Airport for 24 hours will cost $206.82 on a standard rate. Because you won't be traveling more than 200kms there won't be any extra charges. There is the problem of fuel costs. The average fuel price in Melbourne is $1.30/litre so let's estimate it'll cost you $90 for a full tank. (Don't go buying extra insurance, though. Trust your driving.)
All up you're looking at about $300 return, which is more than 16 times less than catching a private helicopter.
3. An Uber Black.
An Uber Black is ready to take you from Melbourne Airport to Clifton Springs golf course for $327.433. It's also handy door-to-door service.
All up you're looking at about $655 return, which is more than seven times cheaper than catching a private helicopter.
4. Stretch limo.
Frank from Metro Limos will quote you the same amount he's charging Ja Rule to get him from Melbourne to his Geelong gig this Saturday. No seriously, he's Ja Rule's limo driver.
All up you're looking at $600 return, which is more than eight times cheaper than catching a private helicopter.
5. Fire truck.
That's Frank again in the fire truck and he says the big red engine is a hit with Bucks and Hens parties.
All up you're looking at $490 return, which is more than 10 times cheaper than catching a private helicopter.
6. Buying a used car.
This awesome '91 Magna is going for a steal at $399 on Gumtree. Factor in a tank of petrol at $50.
All up you're looking at $450 return, which is more than 11 times cheaper than catching a private helicopter. (Also you now own a car)
Look sure it's going to take you almost a day to make it but in that time you'll bear witness to the sights and sounds of Port Phillip bay.
All up you're looking at about $100 for food and water, which is 50 times cheaper than catching a private helicopter.
Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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