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Abolition of the Gold Travel Pass for Former Politicians (Reflecting Community Standards) Bill 2003

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2003

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

ABOLITION OF THE GOLD PASS FOR FORMER POLITICIANS (REFLECTING COMMUNITY STANDARDS) BILL 2003

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by the Member for Cunningham Michael Organ)



 

 

ABOLITION OF THE GOLD PASS FOR FORMER POLITICIANS (REFLECTING COMMUNITY STANDARDS) BILL 2003

 

 

OUTLINE

 

The purpose of the Bill is to abolish travel entitlements for retired politicians and their spouses and to provide for a highly restricted set of circumstances where retired Members of Parliament or their spouses are entitled to travel at the expense of the Australian taxpayer.

 

The Bill abolishes both the Life Travel Gold Pass as well as existing severance travel arrangements for Members of Parliament and their spouses who are not eligible for a Life Travel Gold Pass as provided for by the Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act 2002. 

 

However, provision is made for retired Members of Parliament to be allocated only one return travel journey for the purposes of vacating their parliamentary offices. In the event of the death of the Member of Parliament, the Member’s spouse or his or her nominee may utilise this benefit.

 

In the interests of civic duty this Bill also provides retired Prime Ministers with a domestic travel allowance that is capped at $2000.00 per year and which may be increased to reflect rising travel costs.

 

Of note, this Bill also seeks to transfer all frequent flyer points that are accrued by a Member in the performance of parliamentary duty to the Commonwealth upon the Member’s retirement or death.

 

           

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT STATEMENT

 

Since the overall effect of the Bill is abolish and limit the entitlement it is expected there will be a large reduction in overall expenditure.

 

 

 



 

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

PART 1 - INTRODUCTION

 

Clause 1: Short title

 

Clause 1 is a formal provision specifying the short title of the Bill

 

Clause 2: Commencement

 

Part 1 of the Bill, including authorising provisions is to commence on Royal Assent. The remainder will commence on 1 January 2004 for administration reasons - chiefly to allow time to notify Life Gold Pass holders (and their spouses) and widows and widowers about the new arrangements.

 

Subclause 2(3) provides that the provisions covered by item 2 of the table do not commence unless the Parliament has appropriated funds for the purpose by 30 December. This measure is necessary because a private Member may not introduce a Bill requiring the appropriation of public revenue as an appropriation must first be recommended to the House by message of the Governor-General. This requirement reflects the constitutional and parliamentary principle of the financial initiative of the Crown. It is open to a minister to obtain the required message from the Governor-General and move the necessary amendments to the Bill during its consideration by the House.

 

Clause 3: Simplified outline

 

            Clause 3 outlines the major intentions of each part of the Bill.

 

Clause 4: Definitions

 

Several terms are defined in clause 4, including:

    

            ‘ commercial purpose ’.

This would include attendance at meetings of a government appointed board or advisory body for which a sitting fee is paid.

 

            ‘ scheduled transport service’ is taken to mean any regular timetabled

transport whether metropolitan, intrastate or interstate.  This includes metropolitan buses, coach services, metropolitan trains, intrastate and interstate train services, trams planes and ferries.  Ferry service has the ordinary meaning that is, transport across a body of water such as a river, lake or strait. It therefore includes ferry services that operate to islands off the mainland for example, the Spirit of Tasmania (between Devonport and Port Melbourne) and Kangaroo Island Sealink (between Cape Jervis and Kangaroo Island).

 

A return trip may consist of travel by more than one carrier.

 

Clause 5: Retirement from the Parliament

 

            ‘ retires from the Parliament

 

‘Retires from the Parliament’ is used in the broadest sense to cover all circumstances by which a person ceases to be a member. Retirement is effective from the day following the day on which the person ceases to be eligible for Parliamentary allowances.

 

Clause 6: Appropriation

 

            Clause 6 provides that the Parliament will need to separately authorise the appropriation of funds for the payment of the new restricted travel entitlements provided for under this Bill. While the overall expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund would be expected to be significantly reduced under this Bill, a new appropriation is required because the old scheme is abolished and a new one established in its place. The appropriation can only be authorised following a recommendation to the House by message from the Governor-General. This requires action by a minister to obtain the message and either amend the Bill to include the authorisation or introduce separate legislation to authorise the expenditure required.

 

Clause 7: Schedule(s)

 

            Clause 7 provides that the Acts specified in the Schedule are amended or repealed as set out in the applicable items in the Schedule.

 

PART 2 -MODIFICATION OF DETERMINATION OF REMUNERATION TRIBUNAL

 

Clause 8: Modifications of Determination of Remuneration Tribunal

 

Clause 8 deletes provisions in the Remuneration Tribunal determination providing for entitlements for life gold passes and severance travel. The Tribunal will continue to determine benefits for Members of Parliament that are not inconsistent with this Bill.

 

PART 3 - TRAVEL ENTITLEMENTS OF FORMER PRIME

 MINISTERS WHO HAVE RETIRED FROM THE PARLIAMENT

 

Clause 9: Former Prime Ministers who have retired from the Parliament

 

            The intention of this part is to reduce the circumstances where retired Prime Ministers and their spouses are able to travel at the expense of the taxpayer. On that basis, it is the intention of this legislation to abolish any benefit to a retired Prime Minister’s spouse regardless of whether or not the retired Prime Minister is alive.

 

The Remuneration Review Tribunal has the authority to increase the allowance payable to the Prime Minister for travel within Australia; however any such increases must be directly referable to increases in aggregate transport costs that it would be likely for a retired Prime Minister to incur.

 

Clause 10: Entitlements cannot be anticipated etc

 

            Clause 10 provides that unused entitlements can be carried over to the next year but next year’s entitlements cannot be anticipated.

 

PART 4 - TRAVEL ENTITLEMENTS OF MEMBERS WHO RETIRE FROM THE PARLIAMENT

 

Clause 11: Members who retire from the Parliament

 

This section is the core of this Bill as it severely limits the circumstances where retired Members of Parliament may be granted free travel paid for by the Commonwealth. In effect retired Members of Parliament are only entitled to one return journey from anywhere in Australia to Parliament house and back in order to collect personal belongings from their Parliamentary office provided the trip is made within four weeks of the Member’s retirement.

 

Clause 12: Widow or Widower of Member who dies

 

            A Widow, Widower or a nominee is granted eight weeks with which to collect the Member’s personal effects in recognition of the personal distress that a Spouse may be exposed to upon the death of the Member 

       

PART 5 - MISCELLANEOUS

 

Clause 13: Entitlement limited to travel

 

            Clause 13 limits entitlements under the Bill to travel on scheduled transport services.

 

Clause 14: Class of travel

 

            Clause 14 allows travel to be undertaken at any class.

 

Clause 15: Entitlements not transferable

 

            Clause 15 provides that travel entitlements under the Act cannot be transferred to another person except in the case of a widow, widower or nominee of a member who has died.

 

Clause 16: Use of Official Frequent Flyer Points

 

To avoid any doubt, an intention of this section is to transfer all frequent flyer points that a Member gains from travel that is paid by the Commonwealth, the property of the Commonwealth upon the Member’s retirement. New frequent flyer points accumulated through travel under this Act may be used by the retired member but any such travel is counted against the entitlement.

 

Clause 17: Operation of Act

 

            Clause 17 clarifies that other entitlements under the Parliamentary Entitlements Act are not affected by this Act, that determinations of the Remuneration Tribunal which are not consistent with this Act are not effective, and that a trip commenced before the commencement of this Act but completed after that date is not affected by this Act.

 

Clause 18: Unauthorised travel—recovery of expenses

 

            Clause 18 provides arrangements for recovery of payments made for travel to which the person was not entitled.

 

Clause 19: Transitional period

 

            Clause 19 provides that transitional arrangements can be made by regulation.

 

Clause 20: Regulations

 

            Clause 20 provides a power to make regulations under the Act.

 

Schedule 1

 

            Schedule 1 repeals the Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act.