The role of prime minister brings with it many challenges, but when former Australian leaders find themselves out of a job there are still a whole host of perks to be enjoyed in a life after politics.
Malcolm Turnbull stepped away from politics entirely after he was ousted as prime minister by former Treasurer Scott Morrison in August, however the ex-Wentworth MP has already travelled overseas to represent Australia at an international conference, with the Aussie taxpayer footing the bill.
Just weeks after losing the prime ministership, Turnbull had an overseas travel entitlement bestowed upon him by Morrison, the likes of which has never been granted to previous ex-prime ministers.
The arrangement was quietly issued in September and covers Malcolm and wife Lucy for overseas travel when the retired pollie is “undertaking international travel as approved by the prime minister in writing”.
Despite claiming he didn’t ask for the allowance, Turnbull travelled to Bali on the taxpayer dollar last Sunday ahead of a meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, before leading an Australian delegation at a global conference on how to protect and preserve the world’s oceans.
But free travel isn’t the only perk that former businessman Turnbull and prime ministers before him are able to enjoy. Other allowances entitle ex-leaders to claim the likes of office costs, including WiFi, stationary and security fees, on top of generous superannuation benefits and up to three new advisers.
The Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act was passed in 2002 and allows former PMs, who have left parliament, to receive “a number of facilities at the discretion of the prime minister of the day”. All entitlements last for the duration of the former leader’s life, while a number of benefits can actually pass to their spouse or de facto partner in the event of their death.
The Life Gold Pass previously covered all MPs, however Turnbull axed that perk at the start of 2017, arguing that it could not be justified while the country was doing it tough, meaning that only former prime ministers now enjoy the benefits, despite Turnbull stating at the time that he would not make use of it himself, due to his own personal wealth.
During his time in office, Turnbull famously donated his generous $528,000 salary to charity, however, it is not yet known whether he will do the same with his sizeable pension, expected to amount to around $300,000 a year.
His pension is not as hefty as those earned by his predecessors though, as John Howard introduced the Parliamentary Superannuation Bill in 2004, which stipulated that those who entered parliament after that year would be subjected to a standard superannuation scheme, while those who entered prior to that date would still receive the six-figure pension sum under the old model.
Turnbull’s predecessor Abbott is believed to have earned an annual pension of $307,542, while Howard, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd pocket more than $200,000 a year in pensions and perks, according to the Daily Telegraph, while Paul Keating nets around $140,000 a year — not including the $300,000 they get to maintain a staffed office and travel costs.
And while the perks are seemingly endless, several former prime ministers have also used their status as a former PM to land high-flying jobs after their time in public office has ended, with Rudd going on to work in New York as President of the Asia Society Policy Institute, while Howard signed with a prominent American speaking agency the Washington Speakers Bureau in 2008.
Meanwhile, Gillard was appointed Chair of mental health organisation Beyond Blue in 2017.