The life gold pass allows MPs who retired before 2012 and their partners to claim 10 domestic business class airfares per annum. The government had already suggested that it should be phased out by 2020, but this week it announced plans to scrap it immediately, as part of an overhaul of parliamentary entitlements.
To see Senator Ian Macdonald whining about the loss of a life gold travel pass for retired politicians is one of the most sickening things I have seen from parliament in recent days, and believe me, there have been a few. He berated the social media trolls, the commentariat, lazy journalists and sub-editors for accusing him of self-interest. Instead, he said that he would receive no financial gain from the gold pass because he perhaps would never retire (we might be able to remedy that), but to take the gold pass from ex-politicians would not make any difference to the budget. It makes you wonder who he thinks pays for all this travel.
Despite all this whining from Macdonald, the axing of the life gold pass is just a sleight of hand by the government to make your average punter believe the government is doing something to remedy the situation whereby all the parliamentary porkers have their snouts so deeply in the trough, they have to breathe through their ears. These include Sussan Ley, Stuart Robert, Stephen Irons, Scott Morrison, Barnaby Joyce, Julie Bishop, Tony Abbott, Tony Burke, Brendan O’Connor, Peter Dutton and Christopher Pyne. All these porkers will not immediately be affected by the demise of the life gold pass, because they are still in parliament, and can still have their snouts in the trough, they way they have always done.
If the government detects any loss of interest in parliamentary entitlements among the commentariat or among those lazy journalists or their sub-editors, or even among the trolls on social media, then any changes to any proposals to tighten remaining entitlements will simply be put on a shelf somewhere and forgotten.
In what was nothing more than payback for his “defection”, the government pushed the AFP to investigate Peter Slipper’s relatively insignificant misuse of parliamentarian entitlements. On the other hand Sussan Ley’s numerous private charters, which were in direct contravention of travel rules, have hypocritically been let through to the keeper. It will never happen but I agree with the Greens – politicians should be held criminally accountable for intentional abuse of the system. In some cases it is equivalent to someone misappropriating taxpayer funds for their own personal benefit.
Macdonald is an exemplar for anyone wanting to push for maximum parliamentary terms for politicians. 20 years is more than enough time for most to do something useful for your country (Macdonald is into his 27th year) and FAR too long for others. With few exceptions, recycling them before they get completely comfortable in their entitlement and convinced of the enormous self-worth could only be good for the nation.