Another Prime Minister – another big bill for lurks and perks

We all know politicians get salaries that make most of our pay packets and pensions pale by comparison.

It’s no different in the top job and each and every Prime Minister is entitled to a generous list of entitlements in retirement that is seriously the stuff of dreams.

And in the past few years, the Prime Minister’s job has been like a revolving door, with each ex-Prime Minister walking out that door with a handsome golden handshake that will last as long as he or she lives, thank-you very much. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Tony Abbott is set to go off into the sunset with an annual pension of $307,542 per year.

First it was Kevin Rudd. Then it was Julia Gillard, and then Rudd again. Now we have Tony Abbott. Next will be Malcolm Turnbull…in due course.

But back to that list of lurks and perks.

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The Daily Telegraph obtained Department of Finance documents in 2013 which revealed Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard were costing the taxpayer $1m a year between them in retirement. Both were getting a $200,000 pension plus estimated $300,000-a-year office and travel costs. Gillard had applied for even more office expenses but was turned down.

John Howard was getting a $250,000 pension plus $300,000 a year in office and travel costs.

The Telegraph didn’t breakdown the rest of the list apart from saying Paul Keating was getting $140,000-a-year office, travel, phone costs + pension, Bob Hawke $130,000-a-year in office, travel, phone costs + pension, Malcolm Fraser $220,000-a-year office, travel, phone + pension and Gough Whitlam – who has since passed on – $125,000-a-year office, travel, phone + pension.

Perks included such things as a gold air pass for up to 40 business-class flights a year, a car, an office and up to four personal staff.

In terms of time served, Kevin Rudd was prime minister for 1017 days, Julia Gillard 1099 days and Tony Abbott has notched up just over 700 days.

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One act Tony Abbott won brownie points for, after the Daily Telegraph story was written, was reducing Kevin Rudd’s pay packet and cutting his staff from four to two, bringing his entitlements more in line with those enjoyed by former Liberal Prime Ministers. This is because the incoming Prime Minister has some discretion over what his predecessor receives.

However, the fact remains: Malcolm Turnbull is now the fourth Prime Minister in a relatively short period, and the fourth who will be able to walk away with a very generous taxpayer-funded retirement.

Let’s talk: What do you think? Should ex-Prime Ministers get such generous entitlements for life? Should parties be able to change leaders mid-term or should they stick with the one who was elected, for that matter?