13th Oct 2016
FONT SIZE: A+ A-
High Court rejects increase to pensions for former politicians
High Court rejects politician pension increases

The High Court yesterday rejected the bid by four retired politicians to claim larger retirement pensions and more free travel at the taxpayers’ expense.

The four former politicians cited section 51 of the constitution when challenging recent changes to the law that has slowed the growth of their retirement allowances and limited trips they can take on the Life Gold Pass.

There are currently around 350 former politicians receiving more than $40 million in pensions annually and while these four former politicians are currently receiving pensions between $80,000 and $120,000 each every year.

In submissions during the case, the court heard from the Government that each of the four had already received vastly more money from their pension than they had contributed to their own funds. Former Labor MP Tony Lamb was singled out, in the Government’s submissions, due to having paid only $35,297 into his super account during his nine-year career in parliament while having already received over $1.3 million in retirement benefits.

The plaintiffs failed in their bid to gain a boost to the entitlements of former politicians and have been ordered to pay the costs of the long-running case.

Read more at www.theage.com.au.

Opinion: Greed isn’t good

Sanity prevailed in the High Court yesterday with the court ruling in the favour of the Government in the long-standing case over political pensions. The four former politicians may believe that their bid to restore the original rules surrounding their pension plans was just, but in my opinion, they simply showed their greed.

As the average pensioner goes about their daily life attempting to live off the basic age pension payment, these four former politicians are living the high life receiving pensions of $80,000 to $120,000 per year. It amazes me, but doesn’t surprise me, that this somehow wasn’t near good enough for these four men who through the court case attempted to have this amount increased significantly.

When reading over the case and all of the claims, the item that really got me fired up was the argument over the limitations placed in 2012 on the Life Gold Pass. Previously, the card entitled the holder to unlimited domestic flights at the taxpayers’ expense, but this was wound back to 10 domestic return flights a year. This rule change seemed not just reasonable, but still excessively generous.

Had the plaintiffs won, it would have been a slap in the face to the taxpayer and the case highlights the ridiculously out of control schemes that have been, and still are, in-place ensuring a financially secure retirement for all politicians. The Gillard Government changes were a step in the right direction to clawing back unnecessary post-career parliamentary privilege, but it may just be time for another review.

What do you think? Should there be an independent review into parliamentary pensions? Should the Life Gold Pass scheme be further reduced or scrapped?

RELATED ARTICLES





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    PIXAPD
    13th Oct 2016
    9:48am
    PARASITES
    sidney70
    13th Oct 2016
    4:01pm
    My sentiments exactly.
    Brett (no longer) in China
    13th Oct 2016
    4:41pm
    Completely off subject here, apologies to all, but -
    What's the coin, PIXAPD? Looks a little like pre Roman British?
    You've probably been asked this a dozen times!
    Cheers :-)
    PIXAPD
    13th Oct 2016
    8:37pm
    Antiochus IV 3rd cent BC, Seleucid Empire a type of the coming anti christ and a warning, he was defeated by the Macabees
    PIXAPD
    13th Oct 2016
    8:56pm
    Maccabees
    Brett (no longer) in China
    13th Oct 2016
    9:59pm
    Thanks for that info
    Cheers
    Abby
    18th Oct 2016
    9:32pm
    PIXAPD
    That is no way to talk about our ROYALTY
    LOL
    Jezemeg8
    13th Oct 2016
    10:09am
    If they can't live on $120,000 a year PLUS free travel in business class then why do they think the aged pension for the rest of us is sufficient????
    Anonymous
    13th Oct 2016
    10:37am
    Two separate lists of rules. Democracy?
    Kelpie
    13th Oct 2016
    10:23am
    yes they are like PIGS at the food trough,GREEDY
    Fredklaus
    13th Oct 2016
    10:24am
    make their pensions like the rest of AUS
    Tom Tank
    13th Oct 2016
    11:51am
    Spot on. They should not have free travel Gold Pass and they should not be allowed to draw their pension until they reach the age at which aged pensions can be paid.
    Their pension should also be means tested and a parliamentary pension should not be paid if they have another source of income, as so many do and often a cushy government job so they are double dipping.
    It is about time the "Age of Entitlement" ceased for politicians.
    Adrianus
    13th Oct 2016
    12:13pm
    Wont happen! The unions are too strong in the Public Sector. I think they are currently lobbying for wage increases.
    Wendy HK
    13th Oct 2016
    2:53pm
    Absolutely and no it won't happen!
    what sort of -ism is this?
    If the great unwashed can't get a pension until 70 why can't they?
    If we should be able to live on $300ish why can't they?
    They also had the opportunity to save a real lot of money while in the job to last them until retirement - sports people with a "use-by date" can - whey can't they?
    It really is loooong overdue for the "age of entitlement" to cease - look at the extra money they could spend on refugees without us whinging - win, win.
    Tom Tank
    13th Oct 2016
    3:06pm
    I do have to ask Frank why you bring unions into this as they are not relevant to this discussion.
    Sundays
    13th Oct 2016
    3:37pm
    Frank, you are factually incorrect. The sort of high level jobs or consultancies retired paliamentarians aren't covered by unions. Unions look after low level clerks, nurses, police officers etc. Federal public servants have been in negotiation for nearly 3 years and only want barely more than CPI.
    Brett (no longer) in China
    13th Oct 2016
    4:34pm
    Frank, the public service are not politicians. Have you no understanding of how our country works?
    I'm sure the public service would love the benefits of retired politicians, as would the rest of us, but they have nothing to do with this article or the court case.
    Please read things a bit more carefully before trying to jam your prejudices into a debate.
    ex PS
    14th Oct 2016
    12:40pm
    When Frank has an opportunity to bag Unions he never lets facts or logic get in the way. Unfortunate because this often takes away from his otherwise insightful comments.
    VicCherikoff
    13th Oct 2016
    10:29am
    Definitely scrap the Life Gold Pass scheme AND all but appropriate pensions linked to time in parliament.

    In fact, we should update the outdated parliamentary system and remove any corruption. Lets have individuals stand on just 4 platforms (they can choose these) to cover all of the political issues we face as a country. No parties or party systems. We rate their performance on each of their selected platforms semi-annually via an on-line vote and they lose their seat if set KPIs are not met. Additionally, politicians are to be held personally responsible for catastrophic decisions eg Baird's land clearing/biodiversity loss policies if they are challenged in court as detrimental to society.

    13th Oct 2016
    10:36am
    When a person leaves a position (the words "work","working", and "job" have been deliberately omitted due to the article's subject matter) they are quite obviously no longer part of the organisation and, therefore, their pay SHOULD STOP ALSO.
    The first comment above, "Parasites", says it all. Pathetic and at our taxpayer' dollars.
    hmmm
    13th Oct 2016
    11:01am
    just wondering, but how many other countries put up with this, I know some do, and some have to, so there do we fit in ?
    Adrianus
    13th Oct 2016
    11:37am
    "The Gillard Government changes were a step in the right direction to clawing back unnecessary post-career parliamentary privilege, but it may just be time for another review."

    What changes were they?
    I recall the Abbott government recommending the tribunal freeze current remuneration and a reduction in retirement benefits for both Gillard and Rudd. There was no need for Rudd to run staff at two separate offices.
    Conversely, I recall politician remuneration reaching it historically biggest increases during the Gillard government?
    Old Man
    13th Oct 2016
    8:55pm
    Yes Frank, Gillard oversaw the largest increase but you should know that the increase was specifically designed to remove most of the lurks and perks on retirement. Overall, taxpayers will not be paying as much for retired politicians who will be expected to fund all of their own travel etc from their super. No extras.

    What annoys most is things like the late Neville Wran's entitlements. One of these was an office in the city and staff and continued whilst Wran was alive even though the last years of his life were spent in care because of dementia.
    Abby
    18th Oct 2016
    9:38pm
    What about when Hawke separated from Hazel ???

    They both got the full pension and the perks of staff and office etc.

    Us poor mortals have to share the pie in half.
    Turvey
    13th Oct 2016
    11:45am
    Two different worlds......literally.
    Definened Benifits shoul be scraped so that politicians have to actually work for their pensions & then the playing field maybe might be more equitable for everyone.
    Maybe as politiacians set the rules for everyone's else pension benifits, Pensioners should be allowed to set the Politicians pension benifits......lets have a plebiscite!
    fedup
    13th Oct 2016
    11:51am
    Not only politicians public servants were on this scheme retiring on their present wages + CPI increase. Then they can get another job without impacting on their pension they receive under the old scheme.
    Eddy
    14th Oct 2016
    12:27am
    Sorry Fedup, you got it wrong. Public Servants had a completely different scheme to the pollies and judges. PS did not retire on their salary, the most they could get was 70% after 40 years service, and that was after compulsorily paying 5.5% of their pre-tax salary as contributions to their super. Yes the CPI increase is twice a year, even the ABS admits CPI does not reflect cost of living increase. This is why the OAP is indexed using PBLCI which is generally much higher than CPI. Hence retired PS were losing ground every 6 months. Another thing retired PS have to pay tax on their super unlike non-government funds which are tax free. For instance last year on my super income of $67700 I had to pay over $8000 in tax. Did you pay tax?
    Nomad51
    13th Oct 2016
    11:54am
    Scrap the perks and definitely review their pensions. Lets face it everybody else has to make do with far far less; some get nothing yet these people have extremely generous benefits AND they want more.
    How many pollies retired or otherwise can anyone think of that actually did a good job? If we look at the current lot and based on performance they would be out of work in the real world.
    Rae
    13th Oct 2016
    3:38pm
    No they would be employed by Macquarie Bank. Especially the ones able to take public utilities and organisations and sell them into the private sector.

    They are doing a terrific job of destroying the Welfare State, lowering wages, privatising everything our taxes built and keeping wages falling.
    shooter
    13th Oct 2016
    12:16pm
    Pollies are the biggest parasites in the country and its about time that they were pulled back into line with everyone else. The vast majority have done nothing positive for the country or the people living here; they have embraced every free trade agreement on offer, and as a result thousands of jobs have been exported with absolutely no benefit to ordinary Australians in spite of their claims that we will all benefit.
    They have also opened our borders to all and sundry, with the result that we will end up with a situation such as exists in many parts of Europe.
    Its about time that everyday things like education was put ahead of the pc rubbish that we are infected with. Our kids are being dumbed down by the system which was put into place by inept politicians.
    Oliva
    13th Oct 2016
    12:29pm
    Most go into Gov cause they like the fat benefits?? Take away the hand-out money and see who wants to run the Country. Pollies should be paid in line with their income before they entered Parliament.
    ph
    13th Oct 2016
    12:31pm
    Time for those that can afford it to 'do the heavy lifting' I have no issue with parliamentarians getting a reasonable pension. We need to encourage the best minds in the country to take up public life. A pension of maybe 10% or 15% over average weekly earnings should be sufficient, with some further benefits, and possibly only start once the person has retired from working life, as with the rest of the community, maybe 67 years old. Thought also needs to be given as to whether or not it should be means tested. I can't imagine Malcolm needs further income to support his lifestyle. However it is shaped it needs to be in line with what the community thinks reasonable, as it is the community that pays for it.
    Andy
    13th Oct 2016
    12:49pm
    They are not gods, their pensions should be brought into line with the rest of Australia, then we will see a fair pension for all emerge.
    Eddy
    13th Oct 2016
    1:05pm
    Before you get so emotional please remember that these benefits were what is now referred to as a remuneration package ie a salary plus future retirement benefits. To go to court to enforce what essentially was a 'contract of employment' does not necessarily equate to greed. The effect is that now the Government has High Court approval to change the 'contracts of employment' of all their employees.
    I must declare that I am also a recipient of defined benefit pensions from Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefit (DFRDB) and the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (CSS), which with my DVA Disability Pension puts me just over the cutoff income to get the OAP. I paid my contributions from the day I turned 18 uintil I retired at 66.
    ex PS
    14th Oct 2016
    1:01pm
    I agree Eddy, you can't blame anyone for insisting on claiming benefits that were part of a Salary Package that went with the job that they applied for. If we want to change the conditions that apply to politicians it must be for future politicians, we have no right to make changes retrospective as it is not fair.
    The same should apply to Pensioners and Self Funded Retirees, we all made plans based on the circumstances that applied throughout our working lives and we deserve the same consideration from politicians. We should not have our lives disrupted retrospectively because they choose to change the conditions of our retirement in order to make up for their indifferent management of the economy.
    In a fair system all politicians remuneration should be based on the capability of them to look after the population that they represent, in other words, if the remuneration to workers and retirees stagnates or decreases, so should the pay of politicians. Their future remuneration should rise or fall accordingly.
    If this were to happen I would guarantee good legislation would not be held up for purely political reasons.
    OlderandWiser
    15th Oct 2016
    5:35pm
    Agree completely, ex PS. Politician remuneration should be linked to performance, assessed by the ability of our society to support appropriate lifestyles for EVERYONE, and if one sector takes a hit, all should take the same percentage hit. To single out one class of retirees who have already suffered more than any other class of Australians due to falling investment returns and further slash their lifestyle while not similarly attacking others is unacceptable, and constitutes gross discrimination. The ONLY group that should suffer greater pain than the rest of us is the overpaid fat-cats who created all the problems with their mismanagement.
    Turvey
    15th Oct 2016
    6:07pm
    Disagree Eddy & PS,
    Lots of people based their retirement plans which the government made retrospective decisions which overturned those plans.
    Absolutely NOTHING is sacrosanct when it comes to politicians & their ludicrous decision which they are NEVER held responsible for. Whatever you thought your work contract conditions were are not set in stone, so suck it up & join the other members of the population that have had their retirement dreams overturned.
    Alexii
    13th Oct 2016
    1:19pm
    PARASITIC PIGS!
    Beeman
    13th Oct 2016
    1:55pm
    The problem starts with the media created title of Very Important Person (VIP) and some of them start to believe it.
    They are simply people doing a job just like the guy driving a truck and should be treated the same way
    Turvey
    13th Oct 2016
    6:01pm
    Well said Beeman
    Turvey
    13th Oct 2016
    6:01pm
    Well said Beeman
    kamelmusic
    13th Oct 2016
    2:10pm
    It's important for this site to present balanced views. You have mentioned Julia Gillard, but it was John Howard who ended the provision of parliamentary pensions in 2004. (I don't think it could be made retrospective.) Since then, new MPs contribute 15.4% to their superannuation. While salaries and benefits now are still generous by some standards, we are not subject to the distortions and rorts seen in many countries.
    Aussie
    13th Oct 2016
    3:16pm
    The max we can get today is $2,014 dollars including rental assistance and is hard to live but they want an increase .... They get between $6,500 and $10,000 x month plus a lot of entitlements and is hard for them..... give me a break
    and a question ...is that a welfare or a pension ...... I am confused

    Well I will leave my comments to myself ...... all this is very offensive .....

    PIXAPD ....agree ....PARASITES
    Retired Knowall
    14th Oct 2016
    4:25pm
    The Pension is Welfare.
    Not Senile Yet!
    13th Oct 2016
    3:27pm
    Parliamentary Pensions are far too generously SUBSIDISED by the Taxpayer....time to Stop the Tax subsidies.....time to remove the Travel Perks....by limiting them to a Set Amount and only whilst employed....once retired...they wre on. their own!
    Apply an Asset Test to acces before 70...just like the rest of us!
    Phyl
    13th Oct 2016
    3:28pm
    Who are these greedy four? Names please!
    Sundays
    13th Oct 2016
    3:42pm
    Yes, and who paid for this unnecessary high court challenge? The gall of these people is unbelieveable! Yes, we need further review. I am totally against any perks once you've left the job and the rules around parliamentary pensions definitely need tightening
    Adrianus
    13th Oct 2016
    3:51pm
    Labor's Barry Cunningham, Tony Lamb and Barry Cohen, and Liberal John Moore.
    They also wanted more free travel.
    Aussie
    13th Oct 2016
    3:57pm
    Thanks Frank .....NAME AND SHAME ....this 4 PARASITIC PIGS! as Alexii call them.
    Eddy
    14th Oct 2016
    11:29am
    Dear Phyl et al, these individuals were probably only the front persons for many others. They went to court to attempt to get a ruling that their 'contract of employment' (as members of parliament), which included generous retirement benefits, could be enforced. The High Court ruled against them. If the court had ruled in their favour then the government would have been obliged to restore all these benefits to all affected ex-pollies. It sets in stone the principle that a government can legislate away what they had previously promised. To call them parasitic pigs is a bit much.
    PIXAPD
    13th Oct 2016
    4:06pm
    HINCH and HENSON will be set for life now...... TAKE YOUR WHEELBARROW TO PARLIAMENT AND GET A LIFELONG PENSION<<<<<< AL CAPONE was an honest man, compared to these BLUDGERS
    Aussie
    13th Oct 2016
    4:34pm
    Yes mate what about we bring Al to the parliament to fix them he he he he
    Willfish
    13th Oct 2016
    4:42pm
    The entitlements of age pensioners are decided by politicians, so it only seems fair that the entitlements of politicians should be decided by a committee made up of aged pensioners and self funded retirees.
    Aussie
    13th Oct 2016
    5:01pm
    Willfish

    No No No No mate ..... Is not Pension is Welfare ...but is OK for politicians to call it Pension shit I am very confused ...for us Welfare for politician a Pension ...................

    Please explain ....someone Please Explain before I call Pauline and ask her to explain ...
    Triss
    13th Oct 2016
    6:19pm
    That's always confused me as well, Willfish. Only the Age Pension is classed as welfare. The pensions of ex nurses, ex teachers, ex judges, ex politicians, etc are not classed as welfare even though they are paid from the same taxpayer funded pockets. In my opinion that is a corrupt practice and a villification of age pensioners.
    Rae
    14th Oct 2016
    8:45am
    Triss the pensions you talk about are not paid from tax revenue at all. They are paid from the Superannuation Fund the worker paid into. The same as your superannuation pension is paid.

    Centrelink pays aged pensions from revenue.

    A public servant worked 45 years, paid taxes and contributed $5.50 of after tax income for every unit of super you were allowed to have.

    Most public servants paid a few hundred dollars of wages a fortnight into a fund the same as you did. The difference was these worker's paid tax first and couldn't have the tax concessions that came later in accumulation funds. But the pension was guaranteed so market risk was removed.

    To get the pension all that money had to be surrendered to the fund to buy a form of allocated pension.

    There was no choice either as it was a compulsory part of the job.

    It would probably have been good if they could have had all their pay to spend the same as other workers did.

    Only a woman whose husband was paying into one of these funds was allowed to opt out. Everyone else was forced to contribute.

    In other words those public servants had to save their own $600 000 while the person on the aged pension had the money saved for them by the tax payers.
    Triss
    13th Oct 2016
    5:34pm
    Did I read the piece in The Age correctly? ['changes to retirement allowances were lawful and "did not constitute an acquisition of property" because the entitlements were "inherently liable to variation"]
    That should mean all the pensions of ex pollies can be stopped if they're younger than 65 or have more than a $1million in assets and whittled down to normal pension if they're over 65. Also stopped if they're working another job whilst drawing their pension like Hockey, Gillard, Howard and a laundry list of others.
    Strummer
    13th Oct 2016
    6:01pm
    Unfortunately, these monkeys don't work for peanuts.
    in2sunset
    13th Oct 2016
    6:19pm
    Let me get this straight - over NINE years, when he was on a salary of over $150,000 - the most he contributed to the super was just $35,297..... Yet he has already received over $1.3 million in retirement benefits. What galls me more is for them to even THINK they deserve more.
    Absolutely obscene!! Greedy, parasites.... I work my butt off to contribute to my super with no where NEAR that return. They should be treated no different than any other person (I was going to say 'working person' but that is a misnomer). It is a privilege to be elected to serve our country - not an automatic right to milk us tax payers for everything they (think) they can get. Absolutely sickens me...
    SGW
    13th Oct 2016
    8:11pm
    Any person being paid a pension by the Government, should have to go through the Centrelink process and be subject to the same rules as as anybody else
    Dotty
    13th Oct 2016
    8:45pm
    I am glad to see that the Court ruled out against these greedy Pollies that have earned huge wages for spending as little time doing anything constructive while in Politic;s !
    They spend most of their time flying around the world at the tax payers expense and still want more when they do trtire after so little time doing as little as possible ! Greed is a shoking thing !
    I am glad to hear that this Judge was sensible with his ruling!
    Dotty.
    PIXAPD
    13th Oct 2016
    8:54pm
    As long as there are politicians there will never be 'fairness' nor a 'fair go' I could have been a politician but I decided against a life of crime.

    Look at all countries and it is the politicians who rake in the money for themselves from the taxpayer. USA, UK, name it and they all get lots of money and enormous pensions. They feather their nests, get perks, travel, all sorts of things...

    They are to be DESPISED, the lot of them, they can be likened to CANCER, GANGRENE, or a ROTTING CORPSE among humanity.
    Pamiea
    13th Oct 2016
    10:06pm
    God I hope all this crap about politicians receiving exorbitant amounts and flights etc once they retire is resolved for all time soon. THEY DONT DESERVE IT AND ITS A COMPLETE RIP.OFF AND INSULT TO AUSTRALIANS.
    Pamiea
    13th Oct 2016
    10:06pm
    God I hope all this crap about politicians receiving exorbitant amounts and flights etc once they retire is resolved for all time soon. THEY DONT DESERVE IT AND ITS A COMPLETE RIP.OFF AND INSULT TO AUSTRALIANS.
    Blossom
    13th Oct 2016
    11:44pm
    As far as I'm concerned once Parliamentarians leave parliament if they go to another job they shouldn't be allowed draw any of their superannuation until they retire from the workforce completely. They should not be allowed any free flights at all regardless of class..or other travel..unless they are attending something on the Govt.'s behalf. The last Age Pension rise wouldn't even buy a large container of milk.
    Crimmo
    14th Oct 2016
    4:45pm
    The Life Gold Pass scheme should be scrapped. These former politicians are now ordinary citizens and should pay their own way in life, as other ordinary citizens do.
    E?L
    18th Oct 2016
    1:34pm
    Abolish all pensions to past politicians plus their perks. Nobody is worth what they are paid. Considering nothing is done for the good of our country or people who have made and worked hard to make a living..


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles