Pressure on for Malcolm Turnbull to take action on controversial perks

It has long been asked why politicians retain access to some pretty tidy parliamentary perks when they are no longer

It has long been asked why politicians retain access to some pretty tidy parliamentary perks when they are no longer involved in the running of the country — and in some cases have gone on to secure lucrative positions of employment. When the Coalition Government announced two years ago that it would axe the controversial Life Gold Pass, you all held your breath in anticipation but it appears you’re more likely to pass out from lack of oxygen than the action occur.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is under increasing pressure to address the issue, which gives retired pollies free business-class travel on your taxpayer dollars, after it was revealed the plan had been shelved once again. It had been thought the perk would be cut by the end of 2016, but with four sitting days remaining it seems unlikely a bill will emerge.

When Tony Abbott announced plans to get rid of the Life Gold Pass in 2014 it meant at least 200 former parliamentarians would be kicked off the scheme giving the budget back around $1.5 million a year.

The bill had passed the lower house with bipartisan support, but stalled in the senate. Then there was the July double dissolution election, and you all know what happened there.

However, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the bill — despite taking its time — has a large support base by almost everyone in parliament.

Could it be then that the reason things have slowed is because of the High Court challenge by four former MPs over their right to receive such payments? You wouldn’t think so given that the High Court rejected the case in October.

It might be that the Government is just too busy.

There are at least 100 bills currently before parliament, including the Aged Care (Living Longer Living Better) Amendment (Review) Bill 2016, the Charter of Budget Honesty Amendment (Intergenerational Report) Bill 2015, the Freedom to Marry Bill 2016 and the National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Bill 2016.

What do you think of the Life Gold Pass for politicians? What priorities do you think the Government needs to be addressing?

  1. Jenni Gardner  

    Does anyone know where I can find information about the full range of Politicians’ entitlements – or is it a matter of searching one at a time? Superannuation; Travel after leaving; Postage; Transport; etc.
    I’m sure there are plenty more!
    Are there any groups that I can join to support equalising these ‘privileges’ to those the rest of the retirees in Australia are subject to?
    I have a feeling the Budget would come much more in to balance if these inequities were righted. Needing more information, if anyone can provide help.

    • Marilyn  

      I don’t believe it is hidden Jenni. Start with the Federal Parlt Website and write or visit your local Federal politician’s electorate office.
      It is transparent and there really are few so called, perks. Maybe a few for being abused and bullied by media and naive public!

      • Post$cript  

        Just search, Australian politician pigs with snout in trough

  2. Its time all these lurks and perks were abolished. The rest of the population who have to work a lot harder than most of these politicians ever have don’t get them. Also saying they can’t afford to keep paying the pension for ordinary people but never cut their own entitlements even though most of them are rich or have made themselves rich through being in parliament.

  3. Deb Lancaster  

    So here we go again, this conversation keeps going around and around and nothing is done. The government is all talk no action. When will they ever get around to passing the bills that are before them? They harp on about pensioners, they are the root of all the problems facing government, I think not. Stop the name calling and grandstanding, you all look like petulant children standing up at question time and screaming across the floor. Australians want to be governed by people who have self control and some dignity, get on with the job.

  4. There should be a review of the system and with draw the entitlements after leaving parliament
    This would help to return revenue to the budget
    The superannuation should be the same for all and they should not get the additional ability to have early withdrawal.
    Double dipping should not be allowed

  5. J.Loehr  

    them politicians make sure they get enough , forgetting that one day we the taxpayers will revolt
    and take all there lazy money away

  6. colin  

    even though Labor and the State in general agree with this, LNP say they are too busy to bring the legislation in????

  7. Pamela  

    Here’s what MPs can claim:


    The base salary for backbenchers has been a world-leading $195,130 per annum since July 1, 2014. Ministers receive $307,329 and Cabinet Ministers $336,599. The Prime Minister’s salary is $507,338, the Deputy PM gets $400,016 and the Opposition Leader $360,990.

    MPs also receive an electorate allowance of at least $32,000 (up to $46,000 for larger electorates) for costs incurred while performing official duties, including school visits, gifts to clubs and community groups, awards and other donations. The unspent amount is treated as taxable income.


    A travel allowance for official business varies per night from $273 for Canberra to $472 for Perth, and is not regarded as taxable income. The PM can claim up to $564 for each overnight stay in a place other than an official establishment or their home.

    The “double-dipping” controversy centres on the ruling that allows ministers to keep tax-deductible second residences near Parliament House in Canberra, and claim a $1000-a-week travel allowance on top while staying there.

    A deduction is allowable for all expenses relating to this property, including insurance, electricity and maintenance of the building, plants and grounds.

    Mathias Cormann, Peter Dutton, Anthony Albanese, Brownyn Bishop, Julie Bishop, Tanya Plibersek, Warren Truss, Warren Snowden, Cory Bernardi, Eric Abetz, Penny Wong and Nova Peris are among those who own property in Canberra.
    Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has a tax deductible property in Canberra and can claim a $273 allowance when he stays there.

    Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has a tax deductible property in Canberra and can claim a $273 allowance when he stays there.Source:News Corp Australia


    MPs can claim forunlimited business class domestic flights for official business and a car with driver when travelling for official purposes.

    They can claim a private-plated vehicle for work and personal use and charter flights if their electorate is larger than 10,000 square km.

    Members can also claim overseas fares, transport, accommodation, meals, official hospitality, travel and expense advances, passport, equipment, medical, other related overseas travel costs for themselves and their employees.

    This applies to ministerial visits, official visits, delegations and overseas study.


    All MPs can claim nine business class return trips to Canberra for a partner and three for each child, and three business class interstate trips for partners and children.

    Ministers can also claimunlimited travel for partners for official purposes.


    Politicians can keep all gifts worth up to $300 from private or industry sources and $750 from official government sources.


    MPs can claim for office facilities in their electorate, including maintenance, refurbishment and staff.

    Up to $50,000 is allowed for “office requisites and stationery” per financial year, but many exceed $100,000 in “office administration” costs (on top of facilities and fit-outs).

    This includes printing, stationery, software, publications and giving Australian flags to constituents.

    Pollies can also claim for photographic services at Parliament House for those Instagrammable moments. All members can claim for two telephone lines, while specified office holders can also claim for mobile phone services.

    A further $20,000 will be approved in case of an accident, such as a fire or flood.


    MPs who joined parliament before 2004 receive 11.5 per cent of their salary for up to 18 years and 5.75 per cent after that, plus a lump-sum payment or pension based on years of service.

    For those who joined after 2004, the government pays 15.4 per cent of their total salary into a superannuation fund of the MP’s choice.


    MPs who joined parliament before July 2012 are entitled to a Life Gold Pass, which covers their travel within Australia for “non-commercial” purposes.

    For those who are not eligible, post retirement (formerly called Severance) travel is available, which covers 10 trips.

    Former MPs and senators elected before October 9, 2004 receive a “resettlement allowance” of three months’ basic salary if they have to retire involuntarily, plus another three months’ pay if they served more than one full term.

    Former prime ministers are typically provided with “a number of facilities at the discretion of the prime minister of the day”, which have included car costs, office establishment and lease costs, fixtures, telecommunications, office stationery and publications.

    • richard  

      Pamela and others above if all the perks and benefits were cancelled for ex pollies which is a form of double dipping which they want to stop bring it in quick and also reduce the allowances for existing pollies . Maybe some or all this would make a small difference

    • Guy Flavell  

      Pamela, thank you for going to all that trouble. Absolutely amazing !!! Boy, our pollies
      really do it tough. There’s no hope whatsoever of this ridiculous cost to the taxpayers ever being
      reformed or minimized as both sides of parliament would never, ever reduce their own salaries,
      entitlements and other perks. I’m afraid we’ve just got to grin and bare it unfortunately.

  8. Marlene  

    There is so much waste in government & things that we are not even aware of – let alone the rorts that these so called politicians have been on for many years, and they and their wives continue to b on.
    I like many are sick of all the cut backs to ordinary Australians who have worked all their lives, been through hellish interest rate rises, started superannuation payments late in life, only to be put in a position of cut backs, assessments etc. where we are lucky to get a few dollars in pension rises per year.
    The Government is very wasteful, and we as ones lower on the food chain are not told the full extent of their funding of different things, only made aware and are at the receiving end of cut-backs.
    I was very shocked when I found out that we as citizens of this country donated $25 million dollars to the Clinton Foundation in America to be passed on to third world countries – via our Commonwealth Bank. Plus another $10 million dollars from another source. totalling $35,000,000.
    Why are these sort of “donations” happening? Who is accountable for all these things?
    To this end if this is just one of the “donations” that are being made on our behalf, along with all the rorts that our politicians get (for a lifetime) no wonder the ordinary Australian is going without, told to “tighten the purse strings” as the Age of Entitlements is Over!.

  9. Bruce  

    Don’t forget we also have eight state and territory governments on the taxpayer funded gravy train, no wonder the budget is in such dire straights.

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  11. Glenda  

    It’s a wonder any politician has time to do their work when it must take them hours to submit all the paperwork relating to their claims. Albeit they have staff to complete this for them.

  12. Linda Bruce  

    They shouldnt even have any superannuation payout until they reach retirement age like the rest of us. Talk about double dipping!! And they shouldnt get ‘life’ pension indexed at a certain rate just for working in Parliament, they should do the same as us and put in their share of super into a Fund. Not this CBS guaranteed pension every year for life!!

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