Despite being axed from the position of Governor-General in 2003, former Archbishop of Brisbane Peter Hollingworth still rakes in six-figures a year thanks to his hefty taxpayer-funded pension, it has been claimed.
According to a Freedom of Information request carried out by the ABC, the 83-year-old receives an annual pension of $357,732, as well as a Commonwealth-funded office and staff in the prestigious 101 Collins St building in Melbourne’s CBD.
The report, published on Thursday, also uncovered other benefits paid to the 1991 Australian of the Year, including $275,000 in 2015-16 to cover office and travel expenses, on top of his pension for that year of $328,000. Documents uncovered by the public service broadcaster also revealed that, between 2010 and 2016, his office and travel expenses alone added up to almost $1.5 million.
Doctor Hollingworth, who remains an Anglican Bishop, was forced to resign from the federal role 15-years ago after he was found to have misled a 2002 inquiry into child sexual abuse, over his contact with those who had brought molestation claims to his attention in the 1990s when he was Archbishop.
Not-for-profit charity Fighters Against Child Abuse Australia previously called for him to lose his pension. In an impassioned post on their Facebook page, they said: “We think he should be arrested and charged with perjury for lying to the Brisbane Inquiry into child abuse, we would like to see him stripped of his pension and put behind bars.
“We ask how can a man who has been proven to have “mis-led” the Brisbane Inquiry not be even charged for doing so?”
A Twitter user, by the name Kaye Sara, said: “Peter Hollingworth should not only fore go his extravagant pension, he should pay back the money he has already scammed.”
One described the ABC’s revelations as “obscene and outrageous”, while another wrote: “So he should.”
The calls echo those made in August last year, when The Australian reported that survivors of abuse were calling for Hollingworth to lose his generous vice-regal pension, as well as other public benefits, totalling $500,000 a year.
In a statement at the time, Hollingworth told the newspaper: “It is utterly untrue that I deliberately misled the Brisbane Inquiry or the royal commission. I have acknowledged errors of judgment in my handling of cases of sexual abuse and acknowledged struggling with my memory of discussions and documents from many years past, particularly when I had no access to documents to refresh my memory.
“I have also expressed my regret and made apologies with respect to these matters. But I have never deliberately misled, nor have I sought to cover up or protect paedophiles.”