It’s the end of a ‘golden’ era for Members of Parliament accustomed to complimentary holidays.
The Gold Pass, a retirement perk currently used by up to 300 former politicians and their families to take a maximum of 25 return trips each year, has funded more than 25,000 flights – and they have you, dear taxpayer, to thank for it.
Taxpayers have been footing the bill for more than $10 million worth of holiday travelling, including the $116,662 invoice for one-term Labor senator Ruth Webber’s staggering 147 flights.
Even Gary Gray, the Special Minister of State, calls the Pass “an unjustifiable perk.”
SEE RELATED STORIES FROM THE WDM CONTENT NETWORK:
"I think there is a reasonable argument that it should be scrapped entirely; however, there's also a case to phase it out because MPs have served in Parliament for many years and expect this as an entitlement,” Gray told the Herald Sun.
Under Ms Gillard’s new rules, lifetime members of the Gold Pass club and current MPs will be allowed 10 government-funded flights per year. MPs who do not qualify for the Gold Pass will be allowed five return trips to Canberra within six months of exiting politics.
In order to qualify for the pass, an MP must serve 20 years in Parliament, six years as a minister or one year as Prime Minister.
While this is an admirable abolition by Ms Gillard, it must be noted that the Prime Minister’s salary is about to swell to $470,000 once her $90,000 pay raise takes effect – just in time for Christmas, as reported by the Daily Telegraph. In retrospect, US President Obama’s compensation is reported to be $400,000.
New Speaker Peter Slipper will also see a $70,000 pay raise within his first month in office, bringing his salary up to at least $315,000. The base salary for MPs, currently set at $140,910, is expected to increase to at least $180,000.
Gold Pass perks, illustrated:
Image courtesy of news.com.au