Posts Tagged ‘Australian constitution’

Law is a curious creature. It is impassive. It is neutral. And it is this impassive nature that allows it to apply equally to all those under it. Yet it is also this impassivity which can mean problems if the law is ignored, misapplied or corruptly used.

The eligibility crisis in Federal Parliament came about because all too many people decided to ignore the law. Specifically, when signing the relevant forms to stand for election, they happily signed the statement declaring they were eligible under section 44 of the Australian Constitution, without ensuring this was correct.

The likes of Barnaby Joyce simply ignored the requirements of the Constitution. What, Dad was a Kiwi? Nah, won’t apply to me. Malcolm Roberts pulled on his tinfoil hat, decided that he was an Australian and therefore nothing else would apply – presumably the hat was to shield him from dangerous citizenship rays from any other nation. They blatantly ignored the law. (more…)

One of the Fairfax stable said they were going to take this only to change their mind at the last minute, so you get to read it for free.

As Rod Culleton learned the hard way, getting into parliament is not as easy as it sounds. Your past can have an impact. But once you are safely there, you can do pretty much what you like. You may get booted from a Ministry or something if you mess up badly enough, but you are still there, earning $195,000 at the bare minimum with your backside polishing a red or green leather seat. And this allows a nasty, unintended loophole in the Australia Constitution that far too many politicians have taken advantage of. (more…)

An MP from the Liberal National Party in Queensland has just quit LNP and jumped ship to One Nation in the Queensland parliament. And this highlights a nasty constitutional hole which has been allowed to remain for far too long. Although our Federal MPs might be excused – it is hard to find time to fix constitutional issues when there are all those entitlements to be milked to the nth degree. (more…)

It is not just our current crop of Federal pollies who are seemingly happy to keep rorting the entitlements system but we also have retired MPs clearly intent on keeping their snouts well and truly stuck in the entitlements trough.

Once an MP or Senator has served a minimum period in office, they qualify for a pretty generous pension scheme. This is a defined benefit scheme. I have also benefited by a defined benefit scheme when I was kicked out of the public service on invalidity. However the MP’s equivalent leaves all other such schemes dead in the water behind them.

First of all they get a base pension of a generous proportion of their MP salary at the time of their leaving office, subject to ongoing indexation. But then the perks come in. It seems you can spend your political career dozing away on the backbenches somewhere and you still get access to additional benefits on top of the base pension. If you have held positions higher than backbench snoozer, you get more additional benefits. This is not just for former Ministers – hold any additional form of office such as Grand Tiddlywinker for an occasional weekend and the benefits keep adding up. And we are not just talking a token extra but often many thousands of dollars more. But trying to unravel what these extras are becomes something of a labyrinth. For example, retired-Prime Ministers have a lifetime public support for them to continue to run a professional office including staff. Then on top of that there is all the air travel. This used to be the unlimited Gold Ticket scheme where ex-pollies got to fly all over the country pretty much at will, all on the public teat. Back in 2002 this scheme was capped at 25 trips a year. In 2012 it was cut back to 10 trips a year. Still a generous handout in my opinion.

At long last, at a time when the Abbott government was telling us we all have to do some ‘heavy lifting,’ the token contribution by MPs was to see the Gold Ticket scrapped. The poor darlings.

Retired MPs have been making noise about cut backs to the scheme for a while now and four of them have now launched a bid in the High Court to not just get their snouts back in the trough but to improve the quality of the swill. Labor’s Barry Cunningham, Tony Lamb and Barry Cohen and Liberal John Moore have gone to the Courts in what seems an absolutely outrageous greedy grab. Their pensions are set at a proportion of former salaries, indexed annually. But that isn’t enough. They want their pensions permanently set at a proportion of what current MPs get. They want all the freebie air travel reinstated. And it is all being challenged as a constitutional matter with the Commonwealth having made ‘an unlawful acquisition of their property’.

In other words, these ex-MPs believe they have a constitutional right to bleed us more and more. But their greed and outrageous behaviour gets worse. According to media reports, they had the phenomenal cheek to apply for financial assistance to fund their greedy grab.

In the wake of the Bronwyn Bishop saga, the stories keep coming out about outrageous travel by current MPs on both sides of the House. And while some Members are gleefully throwing mud, plenty of others are now suddenly going all bi-partisan, trying to keep a lid on just how disgusting their rip-offs have been. And now we have former MPs trying to get in on the act, wanting unfettered access to every buck, every perk and every damn thing they can get their grubby hands on, to the point of thinking that the public should fund their money grab.

Is it any wonder that people simply do not trust politicians as a class?