Aussie Govt Under Fire Over Parliamentary Perk
Australia’s coalition government is under new pressure to scrap a parliamentary perk, which gives all former MPs 10 free, return business class flights within Australia each year, after it claimed it was ‘too busy’ to introduce the legislation into the House. The Life Gold Pass is a scheme, which once allowed retired MPs unlimited free business class travel on the taxpayer, but now allows for just 10 free return flights per year. A spokesperson for the government said yesterday that with the final sitting day of the parliament on Thursday, the bill was unlikely to be introduced until 2017.
“It is likely the introduction of the Parliamentary Entitlements Legislation Amendment Bill will be delayed until early 2017,” a spokesman for Special Minister of State Scott Ryan told Fairfax Media.
“Due to the government’s busy legislative agenda it may not be possible to progress this legislation within the final days remaining in this parliamentary year.” Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott first announced that he would scrap the scheme in 2014 as it would save more than US$1.2 million (FJ$2.51m) out of the federal budget each year. Despite the government’s statement, Senator Nick Xenophon of Nick Xenophon Team said it was a “lame excuse.”
“It’s a bit like me saying I’m too busy to consider the government’s bills,” he told Fairfax. “This is a no-brainer.” Meanwhile the Greens’ Lee Rhiannon said the delay reeked of government greed.
“Given the tripartisan support for this legislation, it would be a quick, easy and popular bill to bring on and pass,” Ms Rhiannon said. “This is a classic snouts in the trough scheme, and the government can no longer blame the now resolved High Court case for delaying its introduction.”
The parliament’s final sitting day for the year is expected to be December 1. It will not resume until the new year. Xinhua