Prime Minister Lurks & Perks

Friday, July 19, 2013

Millions of Australians are struggling to meet their ever increasing living costs. To put a roof over their heads, to pay for their children’s education and the ever increasing costs for decent health care. Our aged pensioners live from day to day afraid to put the heating on in winter or the fan on in summer due to escalating electricity costs or live on a staple diet of bread and jam because buying a steak would blow the budget.

When a loyal worker retires from his job he may receive a nice gift from his workmates and employers, a pat on the back then sent on their way. Not so with our 6 former Prime Ministers.  Gough Whitlam (1972-75), Malcolm Fraser (1975-83), Bob Hawke (1983-91), Paul Keating (1991-96) and Mr Howard (1996-2007) and now Julia Gillard (2010-13).

On top of their generous parliamentary pensions, former prime ministers are entitled to taxpayer-funded support, "in recognition of public service", in the form of domestic airfares - for themselves and family - an office and staff and a car.

Each former PM is entitled to at least two staff, including a senior private secretary, and the annual wages bill of each is nearly $300,000 (2010). Mr Howard's expenses blew out well in excess of the other four former prime ministers no longer in Parliament thanks to a $450,000 office refit in 2008/09 to his swanky digs in Sydney's MLC building, which already costs nearly $14,000 a month to rent.

Each PM can usually expect to receive about 70 per cent of the incumbent's salary, unless they chose to take a lump sum on retirement.

Kevin Rudd salary is approx. $507,000 per year. This would give our former Prime Ministers a wage of approx. $350,000 each if they didn’t take the lump sum retirement.

Our former Prime Ministers are also entitled to domestic airfares, car hire, phone, and family travel costs. We are also obliged to pay for governors-general, and Life Gold Pass Holders.

The more than 200 Life Gold Pass holders, who along with their spouses are entitled to domestic airfares, cost taxpayers more than $1.279 million for the year. Of that figure spousal travel accounted for $360,430 (2010).

What the five surviving former PMs cost taxpayers in 2010-11*:

  • John Howard...$297,765.27

  • Malcolm Fraser...$255,256.10

  • Paul Keating...$149,423.47

  • Bob Hawke...$144,603.30

  • Gough Whitlam...$137,832.20

Let’s not forget all the former PMs were voted out of office and a few, left a lot to be desired as leaders of this nation. Yet we still pay for their costs on top of a very well paid superannuation scheme. John Howard has been reported to command $50,000 for a speaking engagement. This is an absolute disgrace and each and every one of them should hang their heads in shame. 

I call on all political parties to address this outrageous cost to the taxpayer. There is no justification for anyone to have held a position for 3 years, yet still being able to claim expenses after 38 years out of office. As far as I am concerned you may get a pat on the back if lucky and your mates may give you a gift, no different to any other Aussie.  

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