06 March 2016
by Adam Gartrell
Retiring federal politicians will get six-figure pensions for life
The majority of federal politicians who have announced their retirement this year will be paid annual pensions of at least $118,000 - and in some cases much more - adding more than $2 million to the annual bill.
Of the 22 MPs and senators who have already announced they will not re-contest the upcoming election, 16 are believed to be eligible for the controversial Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Scheme.
Only available to politicians elected before 2004, the defined benefits scheme already costs taxpayers more than $40 million a year.
Eight Coalition and eight Labor MPs are set to qualify this time and most will be paid a minimum of $118,125 – or 75 per cent of a current MPs base salary for superannuation purposes of $157,500.
That will add close to $1.9 million to the bill, with more retirements potentially to come.
But that doesn't include extra allowances for time served as a minister, parliamentary secretary or other office holder. Of the 16 eligible, 14 will get loadings that could add tens of thousands to their retirement income.
Former deputy prime minister Warren Truss and long-serving Coalition ministers Ian Macfarlane and Philip Ruddock will benefit the most from the scheme, grossing between $150,000 and $200,000 a year.
Other Coalition MPs who will benefit from the system – scrapped for new MPs in 2004 because it was deemed too generous – include Mal Brough, Bruce Billson, Bruce Scott, Bill Heffernan and Andrew Southcott. Mr Brough is covered by the scheme because his first stint in Parliament began in 1996.
On the Labor side former speaker Anna Burke and former ministers Joe Ludwig, Laurie Ferguson, Alan Griffin, Bernie Ripoll and Jan McLucas will do handsomely. Jill Hall and Kelvin Thomson will also benefit.
And they will get the money – fully indexed and called a "retirement allowance" – annually. Or they can choose to convert half of it into a lump sum as soon as they leave.
Several of the longest-serving MPs, including Mr Ruddock and Mr Truss, will also be eligible for the Life Gold Pass, which entitles them to 10 taxpayer-funded business-class return flights a year.
But six retiring MPs will miss out on such arrangements.
Former trade minister Andrew Robb, Nationals MP John Cobb and Labor MPs Melissa Parke, Gary Gray, Alannah MacTiernan and Joe Bullock do not qualify for the scheme because they were elected after October 2004. They will be paid superannuation under a standard accumulation scheme instead.
The Parliament is losing close to 400 years of lawmaking experience with this year's mass exodus.
And that's not including seven MPs and senators who have called it quits since the 2013 election, sparking by-elections or Senate vacancies.
Of those, former prime minister Kevin Rudd, former treasurer Joe Hockey and senators Brett Mason and Kate Lundy also qualify for pensions.
However, Greens senators Penny Wright and Christine Milne and Coalition senator Michael Ronaldson miss out.
It's understood the pension of Coalition MP Don Randall, who died last year, is being paid to his family.John Howard scrapped the pension scheme in 2004 after coming under pressure from then-opposition leader Mark Latham.