Tony Abbott
Tony Abbott Peter Holt

Bishop scandal: Tony Abbott warned of political cost

FORMER Liberal leader John Hewson says if Prime Minister Tony Abbott continues to support Speaker Bronwyn Bishop throughout her expenses scandal, it will come at "enormous political cost".

Treasurer Joe Hockey has also continued to criticise Mrs Bishop.

Mr Abbott stood by Mrs Bishop  on Friday after she paid back more than $5000 in public money to take a helicopter from Melbourne to Geelong to attend a Liberal Party fundraiser. Mr Abbott said Mrs Bishop was doing a good job and that he still had confidence in her.

But Mr Hewson said he was "staggered" by Mr Abbott's decision to support Mrs Bishop. "He's got to nip it in the bud, it's just going to run hard against him," he told Sky News.

"The fact that she's just obfuscating rather than addressing the substance of the issue, as is he, is unsustainable."

The Coalition's support for Mrs Bishop, who also spent $90,000 on a trip to Europe, including $1000 a day on limousines, was inconsistent with its calls for former Speaker Peter Slipper to resign over allegations he misused $900 in taxi vouchers. Mrs Bishop's trip was partly aimed at securing her a job with the International Parliamentary Union, based in Switzerland.

More on this at SMH