While ever we have a self-regulated system of travel entitlements for former politicians, there will be articles like today’s revelations of apparently unwarranted and expensive travel, and predictable talkback outrage.
The theory is that because of the unpredictable and demanding nature of political life, there should be significant benefits for ex-MPs once they have left public life or lost their jobs. That theory is sound.
The implementation of it, however, has left a lot to be desired. There is no reason for ex-MPs to have some form of unlimited travel entitlement, and especially not one that puts them at the pointy end of the plane, and which relies on their own judgement about what is appropriately charged to the taxpayer. A system like that is inevitably going to encourage cynicism among voters about their elected representatives, and Australians don’t need any encouragement whatsoever on that score.
Former Prime Ministers — of whom there are rarely many, given the longevity of our governments — deserve a high level of support, as befits the dignity of the office they have held, as do former Governors-General. Beyond that, ex-MPs should benefit from a generous superannuation scheme and no more.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.