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Wednesday, 7 September 1983
Page: 480

Mr CROSS —Can the Minister for Finance say whether amendments to the Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Act 1948, which are currently before the Senate, limit the extent of a commuted sum which a retiring member may receive? Do the amendments deal with the situation of a former member who receives a commuted sum and who returns to service in the Parliament? Has the Minister seen Press reports that a former member who received a commuted sum is seeking re-election to this House? Can he say whether the amendments would apply to such a member?

Mr DAWKINS —I have seen the Press reports to which the honourable member for Brisbane referred. They refer to the circumstances of the former member for Fadden and Griffith who is now attempting to return to Parliament in his third seat, having converted the first two he represented into safe Australian Labor Party seats. When he was defeated at the last election I understand he became entitled to an annual pension of about $27,600 and he chose to commute that to a lump sum of 10 times that amount.

Before he was entitled to do so the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Trust, which oversees this scheme, was required to make a determination on whether he and others in his position were likely to return to the Parliament within 12 months. As it turns out the Trust, faced with that question, felt that it was in no position to make a determination on whether it was likely that Mr Cameron or anyone else would return within the next 12 months.

It now appears that should he return he will, of course, come back well within that 12-month period. Not only will he have received the lump sum payment but he will be entitled to gain additional benefits which, if he were to remain a member for a further 10 years, would entitle him to a pension of 50 per cent of the going salary of a politician. This is notwithstanding the amendments which are before the Senate and which the Government introduced in order to halve the lump sum entitlements of members and senators. That was an indication of this Government's preparedness to make sacrifices at a time when it recognised that sacrifices were being made in the rest of the community. As a result of those amendments, were Mr Cameron to return to Parliament he would be in a much more favourable position than anyone who is currently a member. He not only would have received over a quarter of a million dollars but also he would be able to line up for another serve, which must be the quintessence of double dipping.

The Government has decided that it should review these provisions as they operate, bearing in mind the deficiencies in the existing law relating to members returning to Parliament within the 12-month period, and determine whether Mr Cameron, if successful in his attempt to return, should pay back some or all of the amount which he received. It is my view that if he is successful in getting Liberal pre-selection and in the by-election he has a choice: He can have the money or the job, but not both.