Can’t
Special Minister of State Gary Nairn and his pencil pushers help themselves? Is
it sheer force of habit? This announcement on pollies’ lurks ‘n’ perks went out
at the perfect time to be buried, Thursday afternoon:

—–Original Message—–
From: M&PS Ent Mngt Unt (DOFA)
Sent: Thursday, April 13, 2006 3:04 PM
To: SEN-Senators; REPS-Members
Subject: Ministerial Circular
2006/07: REMUNERATION TRIBUNAL AMENDING DETERMINATION 2006/02: MEMBERS OF
PARLIAMENT – ENTITLEMENTS

Good afternoon

Attached is Ministerial Circular 2006/07: REMUNERATION TRIBUNAL AMENDING
DETERMINATION 2006/02: MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT – ENTITLEMENTS, for your
information. The circular was signed by the Special Minister of State earlier
today.

Thanks

Jess Macintosh
Entitlements Management Branch
Ministerial and Parliamentary Services
Department of Finance and Administration

Now,
Nairn’s circular didn’t exactly sneak out news of a doubling of MPs’ salaries.
It simply announced the details of a Remuneration Tribunal ruling that will
allow pols to receive an extra $19,500 in electoral allowance for use on buses,
trains, taxis or ferries for the conduct of their work, rather than a taxpayer
funded car. It followed pressure from Malcolm Turnbull,
who sensibly used public transport to get round his electorate (have you ever
tried to get a park at Bondi?).

But there
are a couple of principles at stake here. First, the decision was made on March
20, according to Nairn’s release. So why was it announced the afternoon before
a long long weekend three weeks later?

More
importantly, there are some quaint hangovers from the days of state railways
and municipal tramways that give federal
parliamentarians the right to travel free on public transport. Mal Colston’s
probably the only person to have used them in living memory. But they’re still
outmoded and obnoxious – like so many political perks – and should have gone as
part of this ruling.

Perhaps
these should be investigated.

Peter Fray

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