There was the Swanster defending his attendance at the NRL grand final and the use of the VIP jet. He was speaking from New York where he is on a study tour.
Overseas study tour? Hang on, wasn’t that one of the entitlements that politicians gave up so they could award themselves a massive (over 50 per cent) pay rise?
It turns out that there is a large degree of grandfathering to these entitlements. Here’s the deal.
Effective from 15 March 2012, there will be no further accrual of an entitlement to financial assistance for overseas travel.
The entitlement initially accrued after the Senator or Member had completed three years service in the Parliament. Senators and Members who accrued an entitlement prior to 15 March 2012 will retain access to the entitlement which had accrued as at 15 March 2012, which can be used to meet the overseas travel costs of the Senator or Member and a spouse or nominee who accompanies or joins the Senator or Member.
Any unused entitlement, up to a maximum of 50 per cent of the commercial round-the-world airfare, can be rolled over from the 43rd Parliament to the 44th Parliament, but not to a later Parliament.
This is completely outrageous. If there is a trade-off, it should occur immediately. Or you can chose – stay on the old salary and keep the entitlement or shift.
But wait there’s more. The Gold Pass entitlement arrangement was also grandfathered.
A Life Gold Pass is provided to a Senator or Member who entered Parliament before 6 March 2012 on retirement from the Parliament, subject to the retiring Senator or Member meeting the following qualifying periods before they first leave the Parliament on or after 6 March 2012:
- Prime Minister – one year
- Minister, Presiding Officer or Leader of the Opposition – six years
- Parliamentary Secretary, Senator or Member – 20 years or the life of seven Parliaments.
What a disgrace. But according to my reckoning, the Swanster and all those initial ministers from the Rudd government who survived the full terms of the Labor government are a few months short of the six years. Aw shucks.
The bottom line is that the longer serving parliamentarians have absolutely feasted on the changing arrangements. They are members of one of the most generous superannuation schemes ever devised, they have had their various entitlements grandfathered and they have received a massive pay rise. Wow and more wow.
By contrast, the new parliamentarians are on much less generous wickets. In IR, this would be called concessional bargaining – something that the unions abhor.