The gravy train

High Court ruling on government entitlements

This should help slow the gravy train somewhat.

“Former MPs lose High Court travel flight”, Sky News, October 12 2016:

Four former federal politicians have lost a High Court challenge over their reduced post-parliamentary perks.

Howard government defence minister John Moore, Hawke government minister Barry Cohen, and Labor MPs Barry Cunningham and Anthony Lamb employed the same legal principle made noteworthy by the Australian comedy movie The Castle.

They argued their entitlements under the Superannuation Act and a life gold travel pass were their property that had been acquired by the Commonwealth other than on the just terms required by a section in the constitution.

In a judgment that ran to more than 100 pages, the High Court judges unanimously held that amendments to legislation and rulings by the Remuneration Tribunal did not constitute acquisition of property.

A majority held that changes to the life gold pass legislation, reducing return air trips for retired MPs from an unlimited number to 25 and now 10, also did not constitute acquisition of property other than on just terms.

In The Castle, the Aussie battler Kerrigan family turn to the High Court when developers seek to acquire their home to expand an airport.

The case hinged on Section 51 (xxxi) of the Australian Constitution which says property can’t be acquired other than on just terms.

Entitlements for politicians, past and present, remain deeply controversial and have been progressively wound back from their most generous heights.

The legal challenge was launched last year at the peak of the row over then Speaker Bronwyn Bishop’s $5000 helicopter charter to attend a Liberal function.

The High Court directed the four should pay the unspecified but likely substantial cost of their challenge.


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