In today's Addie is a story about why Bronnie Boadicea came flying down to Clifton Springs in a helicopter that day. It was just a fundraising for a wannabee politician.
Geelong councillor Ron Nelson is the man at the centre of Bronwyn Bishop’s Choppergate controversy.
THE man at the centre of Bronwyn Bishop’s controversial helicopter flight from Melbourne to Geelong has spoken publicly for the first time.
Former Liberal candidate and Geelong councillor Ron Nelson said he was not aware of Ms Bishop’s decision to charter a helicopter to his election fundraiser until she arrived at the event.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives caused outrage after it emerged she took a $5227 flight from Melbourne to Geelong to attend Mr Nelson’s fundraiser at Clifton Springs Golf Club in November.
Mr Nelson was running for the Liberal Party in seat of Bellarine in last year’s state election and said he did not know the helicopter had been arranged.
“I wasn’t aware of it,” he said on Monday. “That was a long time ago. I’ve moved on from that.”
Mr Nelson would not be drawn on whether he thought the chopper was an appropriate mode of transport for an MP to attend a party fundraiser.
Federal Speaker Bronwyn Bishop lands in a helicopter at Clifton Springs Golf Club. Picture: Neil Remeeus
“That’s up to Bronwyn Bishop to make that decision,” he said. “I won’t be commenting on that.”
Ms Bishop has already repaid the $5227 and a 25 per cent penalty for the Geelong charter.
The NSW MP said she took the flight because of her “concern for the country” even though the 100km trip would have taken just over one hour by car.
She initially charged taxpayers for the private return flight but later agreed to pay it back.
The Department of Finance guidelines say charter transport can be approved by the Special Minister of State “where no scheduled commercial services exist or a senator or member would be unduly delayed by the use of scheduled services”.