Federal Government pass remuneration proposals
The Federal Parliament has completed passage of legislation recommended by the independent Remuneration Tribunal to reform key entitlements of MPs and some former politicians.
The tribunal announced on December 15 that long-standing expensive travel entitlements should be scrapped or slashed, including the controversial Life Gold Pass, overseas study travel, and post-parliamentary service travel.
The legislation, which passed through the Senate last night, will also limit undesirable windfall superannuation gains resulting from decisions of the independent Remuneration Tribunal.
The Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 is expected to be proclaimed next month, clearing the way for the tribunal to formally implement the pay rise for parliamentarians it foreshadowed in December, after conducting an extensive work-value study.
The legislation details:
- Life Gold Pass: Cost taxpayers $1.3 million in 2010-11. Under this benefit, former MPs, who have not held office as Prime Minister, qualify for life for up to 25 domestic return trips each year. This includes travel with their spouse or de facto partner. The spouse or de facto partner of a sitting parliamentarian, who has never held office as PM and who has qualified for Life Gold Pass, is also entitled to 25 domestic return trips each year.
- This benefit will be abolished prospectively so that it is not available to those who enter or re-enter Parliament following commencement of the Bill. Travel by existing Gold Pass holders or MPs who have qualified for the pass will be reduced from 25 trips to 10 annually. Spouse travel for qualified pass holders will also be reduced from 25 to 10 return trips. These changes will occur when the legislation is enacted.
- Superannuation: The Bill will ensure that the pay increase will not provide unjustified windfall gains to parliamentarians who serve, or have served, as parliamentary office holders or ministers of state and are members of the Parliament’s original 1948 defined benefit superannuation scheme.
The Tribunal made the following key recommendations regarding parliamentary entitlements:
- the introduction of additional salaries for shadow ministers;
- closure of the Life Gold Pass scheme;
- termination of the present Overseas Study Travel entitlement;
- greatly limited severance travel entitlement;
- severance of the link between pensions under the 1948 scheme and current parliamentary office holder and Ministerial salaries; and
- the introduction, consistent with the recommendations made by the Tribunal in 1986, of workers compensation arrangements for parliamentarians.