ARE you tired of politicians making lame excuses for expense outrages?
Are you sick of political leaders talking about "errors of judgment", or people making "mistakes" involving thousands of taxpayer dollars, when heads should roll?
Have you spent sleepless nights wondering if Australia is getting value for money for the squillions it spends on its federal pollies, even though the entitled should have received the memo by now to say the age of entitlement is over?
Then fret no more, my fellow citizens. I'm here to help. At the Centre for Recording Yet Another Pollie Rort (CRYAPR), established in the 1990s in honour of Senator Mal "Snout in Trough" Colston, we help calm the outrage caused by the latest pollie rort by putting it into perspective.
We remind you of notorious rorters of the past, both here and abroad, to show that a pollie might think it's OK to fly in a helicopter to a political fundraiser at taxpayers' expense - because so many pollies before them have done worse and got away with it.
Take Colston, for example.
He should have been charged with systematically abusing his parliamentary travel allowance in the 1980s but his Labor mates saved him.
He was promoted to a cushy perks-laden Senate position instead.
When he jumped ship in the 1990s after Labor took the cushy job from him, police were called and Colston was charged.
He died of cancer in 2003, aged 65, after the case against him was dropped because of his ill health.
"He did not make any impact on federal politics except his alleged rorting of travel allowances," said a senior Labor figure after Colston's death, which begs the question why Labor left him in his cushy job for so long.
A CRYAPR favourite is former federal National MP Michael Cobb, who was convicted of fraud offences against the Commonwealth in 1998 after telling police he slept in his car to claim $145 a night in travel expenses. The court heard he kept up the rort for two years.
Cobb resigned from politics but got to keep his parliamentary superannuation payout of more than $1 million because he wasn't jailed for the offences.
The late 1990s were a golden era for travel rorts by Australian federal pollies.
Who can forget the forced resignations of Howard government ministers John Sharp and David Jull in 1997 after travel expense "mistakes" on an impressive scale.
An Auditor-General's investigation found 37 per cent of Sharp's travel claims in the first nine months of his time as travel minister were incorrect.
In a clear sign that wobbly charter flights are not just a new millennium, female pollie-specific kind of phenomenon, Sharp was not able to fully substantiate that all charter flights charged to taxpayers were for official business.
He was also forced to reduce the number of nights he claimed expenses for from 144 to 97.
The aptly-titled minister for administrative affairs, Jull, was found to have tabled in Parliament a report on travel claims that was neither accurate nor "internally consistent".
Despite the Auditor-General's findings, both men felt they were still ministerial material.
For serious pollie rorting on a grand scale you need to go to Great Britain, 2009, and the parliamentary expenses scandal that landed at least eight politicians in jail, another 40 investigated for tax problems, scores required to repay amounts of up to £125,000, and others forced out of politics, including the then Speaker Michael Martin who was ultimately responsible for approving the allowances system that MPs abused. In a less than gracious speech to Parliament, Martin attacked MPs who supported the newspaper that published the obscene expenses racked up by politicians of all stripes in the period between 2005 and 2009.
We also have Great Britain to thank for the extraordinary former journalist and politician Jonathan Aitken, who notoriously referred to himself as the "sword of truth", shortly before he was tossed in the slammer for perjury.
While in jail he found God and now heads a Christian church.
Bronwyn Bishop was elected to federal parliament as a NSW senator in 1987, seven years before Prime Minister Tony Abbott was elected to the House of Representatives.
In her maiden speech Bishop said she had wanted to be a politician since the age of 17 because of history.
Her history studies had shown her the world was divided into two groups of people - "those who were part of the decision-making process" and "those who had decisions made for them".
She was in the first group, she decided.
Bishop chose the Liberal Party because it espoused four freedoms, including "the freedom to seek reward for effort".
She finished her maiden speech in September 1987 by hoping she would "keep in mind the grassroots Australians for whom I have so much admiration".
Our Bronny can just get a better view of "grassroots Australians" these days while sitting in a chopper.