Remember that time you were able to book a return flight to Perth with your partner, and the government coughed up to cover the fare – business class and all?
No? Neither do I. Because for us mere members of the public, we have to pay for our private travel.
It’s only our retired politicians who have had this incredible privilege. Until now, that is.
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The Gold Travel Pass has allowed for former Senators and Members to travel anywhere within Australia for free, flying business class. The entitlement also covers their spouse, and the pair have been able to travel anywhere domestically up to a whopping 10 times a year.
It’s a program that costs our government millions of dollars every year, and for what return? Nothing! Zero. Zip. Zilch.
It’s simply a benefit to say ‘thank you for your service’ to members of parliament. I would suggest their generous pension and 17% superannuation contributions to be more than enough…
Finally, however, the ‘age of entitlement’ for politicians may be over – or at the very least, we’re making strides in the right direction.
The program has been overhauled a number of times in the last 15 years.
Pollies used to have access to up to 25 trips a year (!!), but this was stripped back to 10 in 2002.
Five years ago, Julia Gillard also cancelled this program for new members entering the Federal Parliament on or after 6 March 2012.
In the last 24 hours, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that the Life Gold Travel Pass will be axed altogether.
This latest move by the PM means any politician who is soon due to retire, will no longer have access to these travel perks.
It does seem a little unfair to MPs who have put in their years of service and who were expecting their travel ‘free ride’ to begin upon forthcoming retirement. But in an environment when the public is sick to death of politicians exploiting their entitlements, no one is going to publicly come forward and say “hey, this isn’t fair!”
Interestingly, the legislation to change the Life Gold Pass entitlement – which is currently before the Parliament – won’t apply to former Prime Ministers. Way to protect your interests, Turnbull!