The Age of Entitlement: What are our pollies worth?

the age

Author’s note:

The subject matter of this post is in the main the work of Dr Dale Kerwin of the School of Education, Mt Gravatt Campus, Griffith University. I received an email from a friend asking me to share its contents. I thought it worthy of the wide audience THE AIMN attracts.

When Joe Hockey decided that the Age of Entitlement was over he was of course not referring to politicians. In his May 2014 budget he set about cutting the entitlements of those least able to afford it. There needed to be more cash for those more entitled and privileged. He set about attacking those out of work, family payments and pensioners.

Some of the budget cuts were so harsh that even the Business Council of Australia, the lobby group for the biggest of big businesses, was moved to protest: “We are very concerned about the risk that savings are falling too heavily on some families and young people trying to find work,” said its chief executive, Jennifer Westacott.

The deputy prime minister and leader of the National Party, Warren Truss, said this about age pensioners in a post-budget speech to Brisbane’s Conservative Club: “Increasingly the lifestyle – and the savings for superannuation – are being seen as the opportunity to enjoy a few cruises and the luxuries of life for a few years until it runs out and then people wish to fall back on the aged pension.”

The (former) Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews, told a press conference: “The days of easy welfare for young people is over. We want a fair system, but we don’t think it’s fair that young people can just sit on the couch at home and pick up a welfare cheque.”

With regards to aged pensions Dr Kerwin makes this point:

“I absolutely agree, if a pension isn’t an entitlement, neither is theirs. They keep telling us that paying us an aged pension isn’t sustainable.Paying politicians all the perks they get is even less sustainable! The politicians themselves, in Canberra, brought it up, that the Age of Entitlements is over”.

Here are some proposals for the lifters, as Joe is font of calling the entitled. Proposals to make politicians shoulder their share of the weight now that the Age of Entitlement is over:

1. Scrap political pensions.
Politicians can purchase their own retirement plan, just as most other working Australians are expected to do.

2. Retired politicians (past, present & future) participate in Centrelink.

A Politician collects a substantial salary while in office but should receive no salary when they’re out of office. Terminated politicians under 70 can go get a job or apply for Centrelink unemployment benefits like ordinary Australians.

Terminated politicians under 70 can negotiate with Centrelink like the rest of the Australian people.

3. Funds already allocated to the Politicians’ retirement fund be returned immediately to Consolidated Revenue.

This money is to be used to pay down debt they created which they expect us and our grandchildren to repay for them.

4. Politicians will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Politicians pay will rise by the lower of, either the CPI or 3%.

5. Politicians lose their privileged health care system and participate in the same health care system as ordinary Australian people, i.e. politicians either pay for private cover from their own funds or accept ordinary Medicare.

6. Politicians must equally abide by all laws they impose on the Australian people.

7. All contracts with past and present Politicians men/women are void effective 31/12/14.

He further suggests that:

“The Australian people did not agree to provide perks to Politicians, that burden was thrust upon them. Politicians devised all these contracts to benefit themselves.
Serving in Parliament is an honour not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so our politicians should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work”.

If you are wondering why Dr Kirwin is circulating his email take a look at the following figures.

REMUNERATION FOR – SPECIFIED STATUTORY OFFICES

Date of Effect 1 July 2014

Specified Statutory Office

Base Salary (per annum)

Total Remuneration for office (per annum)
Chief of the Defense Force > $535,100 – $764,420
Commissioner of Taxation > $518,000 – $740,000
Chief Executive Officer, Australian Customs
and Border Protection Service > $483,840 – $691,200
Auditor-General for Australia > $469,150 – $670,210
Australian Statistician > $469,150 – $670,210
Salaries of retired Prime Minister and Politicians
Office Additional salary (%) Salary as of 1 July
Prime Minister 160 $507,338
Deputy Prime Minister 105 $400,016
Treasurer 87.5 $365,868
Leader of the Opposition 85.0 $360,990
House of Reps Speaker 75.0 $341,477
Leader of the House 75.0 $341,477
Minister in Cabinet 72.5 $336,599
Parliamentary secretary 25.0 $243,912
Other ministers 57.5 $307,329
Shadow minister 25.0 $243,912
Source: Remuneration Tribunal.

So if I press all the right buttons, the TOTAL annual wages for the 150 seats in the Parliament are:
Prime Minister $507,338
Deputy Prime Minister $400,016
Treasurer $365,868
Leader of the Opposition $360,990
House of Reps Speaker $341,477
Leader of the House $341,477
Minister in Cabinet $336,599
Parliamentary secretary $243,912
Other ministers* 307,329 x 71 = A$21,820,359
Shadow ministers* $243,912 x 71 = A$17,317,752

The TOTAL ANNUAL SALARIES (for 150 seats) = $41,694,311 – PER YEAR! And that’s just the Federal Politicians, no one else!

For the ‘lifetime’ payment example (below) I used the scenario that:

1. They are paid ‘lifetime’ salaries the same as their last working year and

2. After retiring, the ‘average’ pollie’s life expectancy is an additional 20 years (which is not unreasonable).

It’s worth remembering that this is EXCLUDING all their other perks!

SO, for a 20 years ‘lifetime’ payment (excluding wages paid while a Parliamentarian)

Prime Minister @ $507,338 = A$10,146,760
Deputy Prime Minister @ $400,016 = A$8,000,320
Treasurer @ $365,868 = A$7,317,360
Leader of the Opposition @ $360,990 = A$7,219,800
House of Reps Speaker @ $341,477 = A$6,829,540
Leader of the House @ $341,477 = A$6,829,540
Minister in Cabinet @ $336,599 = A$6,731,980
Parliamentary Secretary @ $243,912 = A$4,782,240
Other ministers** @ $307,329 = A$6,146,580 x 71 = A$436,407,180
Shadow ministers** @ $243,912 = A$4,878,240 x 71 = A$346,355,040

Conclusions:

TOTAL ‘life time’ (20 year) payments, (excluding wages paid while in parliament) = A$833,886,220 – OVER $833 MILLION
Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, John Howard, Paul Keating, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, et al, add nauseum, are receiving $10 MILLION + EXTRA at taxpayer expense.

Should an elected PM serve 4 years and then decide to retire, each year (of the 4 years) will have cost taxpayers an EXTRA Two and a half million bucks a year! A$2,536,690 to be precise.

A 2 year retirement payment cut-off will SAVE our Oz bottom line A$792,201,909 *** NEARLY $800 MILLION.

There are 150 seats in House, minus the 8 above = 142 seats, divided equally for example = 71 each for both shadow and elected ministers.

This example excludes all wages paid while a parliamentarian AND all perks on top of that – travel, hotels, Secretarial staff, speech writers, restaurants, offices, chauffeured limos, security, etc. etc.

150 seats, 20-year payment of A$833,886,220 less annual salary x 2 years of A$83,388,622. [$41,694,311 x 2]

“Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks”. (Doug Larson. English middle-distance runner who won gold medals at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, 1902-1981).

So it seems that Joe Hockey now infamous budget was very clear. The age of entitlement is over but it doesn’t apply to politicians. They are to remain forever entitled or until electorate demands that it not be so.

ACTION: Push for a MAX 2 year post retirement payment (give ‘em time to get a real job).

Dr. Dale Kerwin
School of Education
Contact details available on request.