30 September 2014
Since coming to office, the Government has been exploring opportunities to make sensible changes to the parliamentary entitlements framework, including those of former parliamentarians, which deliver value for money, openness and transparency.
While it is acknowledged that the role of a parliamentarian is routinely long, busy and varied, the public has a right to expect that the integrity of the system of parliamentarians' business expenses is robust and that taxpayers' money is well-spent.
The Bill will make changes to the parliamentary entitlements framework, as announced by the Government on 9 November 2013. It will also reduce parliamentarians' retirement travel entitlements, as announced by the Government in the 2014-15 Budget.
The Bill will amend the Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990 in order to:
The Bill also amends the Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act 2002 in order to:
The limitations and reductions to parliamentary retirement travel are as follows:
|A...||who...||and qualified for...||is entitled to...||for the period...|
|former Senator or Member||retired on or before 13 May 2011||parliamentary retirement travel entitlement||nil||after 13 May 2014|
|retired after 13 May 2011||parliamentary retirement travel entitlement||5 return trips per year with no spouse entitlement||three years from the date of the Senator or Member's retirement or at the next end of a parliament that occurs after that Senator or Member's retirement, whichever occurs first|
|former Minister, Presiding Officer or Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives||retired on or before 13 May 2008||parliamentary retirement travel entitlement||nil||after 13 May 2014|
|retired after 13 May 2008||parliamentary retirement travel entitlement||10 return trips per year with no spouse entitlement||six years from the date of the Senator or Member's retirement or at the second end of a parliament that occurs after that Senator or Member's retirement, whichever occurs first|
|current Senator or Member||has not retired||parliamentary retirement travel entitlement before 13 May 2014||5 return trips per year with no spouse entitlement||provided that the Senator or Member retires on or before 1 January 2020 – three years after his or her retirement or the next end of a parliament that occurs after his or her requirement, whichever occurs first|
|current parliamentarian who is or was a Minister, Presiding Officer or Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives||has not retired||parliamentary retirement travel entitlement before 13 May 2014||10 return trips per year with no spouse entitlement||provided that the Senator or Member retires on or before 1 January 2020 – six years after his or her retirement or the second end of a parliament that occurs after his or her requirement, whichever occurs first|
|former Prime Minister||has retired||parliamentary retirement travel entitlement||30 return trips per year
20 return trips per year for his or her spouse or de facto partner (up to 10 of which can be non-accompanying/joining trips)
All travel under the parliamentary retirement travel entitlement is subject to a public benefit test and cannot be for a commercial purpose or private purpose.
The Bill also establishes a statutory basis for recovering overpayments to address the risk that certain payments made in the administration of entitlement, under either the Parliamentary Entitlements Act or Life Gold Pass Act, may constitute a breach of section 83 of the Constitution.
The reforms to post parliamentary travel entitlements (including a proposed reduction in post retirement travel and removal of any remaining severance travel) are expected to deliver a saving in underlying cash terms of $5m across the forward estimates.
In addition, the Special Minister of State will be writing to the Remuneration Tribunal to request that they consider the Government's policy in relation to severance travel for retiring parliamentarians. The entitlement in relation to severance travel, subject to consideration by the Remuneration Tribunal, will be as follows:
|A...||who...||under these reforms is...||under the following conditions||for the period...|
|retiring parliamentarian||becomes eligible for post retirement travel upon retirement||entitled to one return trip (at a cost no higher than the cost of a business class airfare)||to each location where they had an office provided at Government expense (such as their electorate and Parliament House offices)||with the travel to be used within one month of their retirement from the Parliament.|
|former parliamentarian||was eligible for severance travel upon retirement on or before 15 March 2012||no longer entitled to severance travel||N/A||N/A|
|Gideon Rozner||(02) 6277 7820 or 0419 193 114|