Julia GIllard

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard is set to reap close to $700,000 next year from a packed schedule of book launches and speeches, plus the generous parliamentary entitlements for ex-PMs.

But the ex-member for Lalor and Australian Union of Students president will have to sweat on the benevolence of Prime Minister Tony Abbott to find out the full extent of her income in her first financial year out of the nation’s top job.

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Crikey understands Gillard’s advance to pen her memoirs with publisher Random House was worth over $400,000 with the terms negotiated by Holding Redlich managing partner Ian Robertson. The tome is slated for release in October 2014.

Former prime ministers generally receive 75% of the current PM’s wage for life under the parliamentary superannuation pension scheme. This means Gillard might have expected to earn $375,000 out of her final salary of nearly half-a-million dollars, but changes passed last year to prevent excessive windfall payments mean that amount will tally about $200,000 (indexed) a year for life.

Her income will be bolstered by any paid speeches and newspaper op-eds she chooses to deliver, plus tens of thousands of dollars in travel and office entitlements gifted to former Lodge-dwellers. Gillard also has two prominent unpaid gigs — an honorary professorship in politics at the University of Adelaide, and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Centre for Universal Education in Washington, DC.

Gillard’s media adviser is former Fairfax communications director Bruce Wolpe, who left the ailing media giant in 2009 to work for trailblazing US Democratic congressman Henry Waxman before joining Gillard’s prime ministerial office as her “special emissary to the Jewish community” in February 2012. Wolpe was believed to be central to negotiations over the Brookings gig, massaging his extensive Kosher Filofax to full effect. Wolpe, a US native, was a major player in the Clinton-Gore run in 1996 and is feted for his famed Beltway SMS skills.

In a rare statement, Wolpe told Crikey that he was a volunteer with Gillard and that the former PM was yet to negotiate a post-politics package with the current government. An office will be provided to Gillard in conjunction with her professorship in politics, an Adelaide University spokesperson said. A spokesperson for Brookings confirmed the DC gig was unpaid.

According to Crikey‘s 2011 investigation into the kind of speaking fees commanded by distinguished former world leaders, speaking agencies Ovations! and Saxtons estimate that ex-Australian PMs could make around $35,000 to $40,000 per speech. Interestingly, when Gillard toured the eastern seaboard last month with writer Anne Summers, Summers repeatedly pointed out that her guest was “donating” her time to be there.

A recently-updated remuneration brief from the Parliamentary Library reports that former leaders are provided with “a number of facilities at the discretion of the prime minister of the day,” generally a leased office, office staff, car travel, fixtures, phone and internet bills, stationery and publications. They are also entitled to free air fares and train travel for life. Under the Lifetime Gold Pass, Gillard and de-facto Tim Mathieson can enjoy 40 return business class domestic airfares a year (although Mathieson is only allowed 10 for himself).

But current prime minister Tony Abbott could technically put the moz on anything outlandish if he decides to dud his former sparring partner — the library notes that the 2010 Belcher review found that “while each former prime minister’s entitlements are individually determined by the incoming prime minister, they have come to be largely uniform in nature. The Prime Minister can also determine ad hoc benefits on a case-by-case basis.”

The Remuneration Tribunal which sets MP salaries has said it will respond to recommendation 35 of Belcher to rip the largesse out of political hands and appoint “a legislated head of authority for providing benefits to former Prime Ministers”.

Next month, Gillard and Mathieson will move into to this spacious $1.8 million house in the beachside Adelaide suburb of Brighton.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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