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Second Reading: Parliamentary Entitlements Legislation Amendment Bill
I would like to thank all members who have contributed to the debate on the Parliamentary Entitlements Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. This bill implements changes to the Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990 and Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act 2002, consistent with reforms announced in November 2013 and in the 2014-15 budget respectively.
In addition to previous announcements, the bill accelerates the termination of access to travel under the Life Gold Pass scheme. The bill ceases Life Gold Pass travel on the day it commences for all current pass holders, including spouses and de facto partners, other than retired former prime ministers and their spouses or de facto partners, and renames the remaining benefit as Parliamentary Retirement Travel. The bill continues Parliamentary Retirement Travel for qualifying current and future retired former prime ministers and their spouses or de facto partners; however, the amount of travel and the purpose of the travel will be limited even further. The bill reduces Parliamentary Retirement Travel by retired former prime ministers from 40 to 30 domestic return trips per year and from 40 to 20 domestic return trips per year for their spouses or de facto partners. The bill requires that parliamentary requirement travel undertaken after 14 May 2014 be for the public benefit.
In relation to the changes to the Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990, the bill reduces the qualification age for travel provided to the dependent children of senior officers, ministers, presiding officers and opposition officeholders from under-25 to under-18 years of age. The bill also imposes a 25 per cent loading on any claim for a prescribed travel benefit that requires subsequent adjustment, unless the adjustment is as a result of an administrative error made by the administering department or the adjustment is made within 28 days of the original claim. The bill establishes a mechanism to minimise the risk that payments made in the course of administering parliamentary-work expenses will breach section 83 of the Constitution. The mechanism includes a statutory right for the recovery of payments that are beyond entitlement as well as the 25 per cent penalty loading where applicable.
This bill contains sensible reforms to improve accountability, in the spending of taxpayers’ money, which strengthen the parliamentary work expenses framework. Once again, I want to thank all members for their contribution, and I commend the bill the House.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Click here to access a PDF copy of the Hansard transcript of this speech.