Senator Ian MacDonald has a point. Our politicians really are terribly poorly paid. They could have stayed in their original ‘real’ jobs and been paid a proper, living wage. But no, through such determination to serve the public these heroes survive on a mere pittance, only to be tossed to one side like last week’s caviar wrapper. A defined benefits superannuation which provides a hefty guaranteed pension? That is merely a minor recognition of all those years of sacrifice for the nation. We should consider giving them all that free air travel in retirement as a way of saying ‘thank you, oh great one.’
What really has MacDonald’s panties in a twist is the loss of the Life Gold Pass which gives retiring pollies and their spouses/partners after at least six years spent in Ministry or twenty-five years lounging on the backbench, guaranteed free air travel for the remainder of their lives. It has been whittled down from an unlimited amount of travel down to ten flights per year. Remember the ‘heavy lifting’ Joe Hockey insisted we all had to do? Our pollies were to play their part too – they were expected to give up the freebie travel. Except life in parliament is such a 24/7/52 mad panic, they have all been far too busy to actually put the legislation forward. Whoops.
Malcolm Turnbull has proven he really is in touch with the rest of we common folk. He has decreed that the freebie post-parliament travel shall CEASE. Unless you were a PM, that is. They will still get it. The fact that he is just seeing through arch-rival Abbott’s policy doesn’t matter. The Honourable Mal deserves to be put on a pedestal as a living national monument. Contrary to popular opinion, I am not a churlish, ungenerous individual. We can allow the living monument to carry an umbrella to shield him from all the pigeon shit.
Back to Comrade MacDonald’s point. Our politicians really are paid just a pittance. Walking through the door of Parliament House to place your backside on one of the red or green leather seats for the first time, a complete newbie who doesn’t have a clue about how things work there, your starting salary is $199,500 a year. Bah – a mere trifle! Allowances for anything and everything, including for just doing the job – of course they are warranted. Who doesn’t deserve an extra few grand a year allowance for attending committee meetings that are a good spot to have a quick nap?
OK, enough joking around. Contrary to MacDonald’s claims, supported by other pollies past and present, they are in fact on a damn good wicket. After doing a damn short apprenticeship they break the two hundred grand barrier and they keep getting pay increases even when the rest of us may not be. But that is just the very tip of the iceberg.
Any of us who are sent off travelling while on the job, should get our travel paid for by the boss. That’s fair enough. And perhaps a reasonable accommodation allowance. But how many of us get guaranteed business class or better when available? Or able to charter jets at a moment’s notice? All on the boss’s ticket. No scrimping to make the allowance cover the accommodation and food budget meet the costs, but high priced dining. And that’s on the occasions when they actually have to pay. But what about all those events they manage to get that have a damn nice feed included, all for free. And on and on it goes. Add in all those benefits and the base salary gets higher and higher. More increases in salary for being put on government committees.
We also have to think about other things we may have spent in making our income, for consideration at tax time. Professionals, for example, may have to keep up-to-date references on their bookshelves. And those bookshelves don’t just magically appear. It all must be purchased. Then come tax time, we can try for a tax deduction. That does not magically return the cost of it all, but just returns the tax that we would have paid on the income used to buy the stuff. And with ongoing tax cuts over the years, in reality the proportion we get to claim back is reducing. But take Attorney General George Brandis as an example. When he claimed thousands for construction of new bookcases at home then thousands more for books to put on the shelves, he justified it that he was also Arts Minister at the time and needed to read books. And he did not just get about 25% of the cost back at tax time, the whole lot was paid for as an ‘entitlement.’ Freebies. Changing the name to ‘work expenses’ merely hides the fact that it is still an entitlement that the rest of us don’t get.
Malcolm Turnbull has tried to ingratiate himself with the public by rebadging ‘entitlements’ as ‘work expenses.’ But it does not change the reality of the fact that the bloody generous salary has a ridiculous level of additional payments and benefits way beyond the scope of most of us. Unless ‘us’ includes ridiculously overpaid Aust Post CEOs. Plus, the new authority put in place by Turnbull to oversee MP and Senator entitlement claims, it has less power than other agencies and has already put easy ‘out’s in place for the pollies to hide behind. Yet more evidence that he, just like the rest of them, was never serious about pegging back ridiculous expenses.
Contrary to the workings of his infantile mind, Ian MacDonald is not poorly paid. The idea that all these freebies are justified is ludicrous over-inflation of his actual worth. And his boss that he is complaining about, has continued to protect him and the rest of his mates.
Is it any wonder that the tinfoil hat brigade is getting more votes at the expense of the major parties?
Over to you – are the pollies entitled to all these freebies?
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