News National Veteran Coalition MP to fight against Life Gold Pass travel scrapping

Veteran Coalition MP to fight against Life Gold Pass travel scrapping

ian macdonald
Ian MacDonald says he wants to become a voice for parliamentarians in future Senate votes. Photo: AAP
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Coalition senator Ian Macdonald has indicated he is likely to oppose a Federal Government move to abolish the Life Gold Pass.

The pass allowed MPs who retired before 2012 and their partners to claim 10 domestic business class airfares per year.

The Government had already previewed changes in its May budget which would have seen the scheme phased out by 2020.

But this week it announced plans to scrap the Life Gold Pass immediately as part of an overhaul of parliamentary entitlements.

The pass is expected to be abolished with bipartisan commitment.

But Senator Macdonald was one of two long-serving Coalition politicians angered by the proposed change.

The veteran senator said he told the party room someone must defend politicians.

“It’s about time our leaders started just emphasising how much work politicians do, how much commitment most of the people who sit in this Parliament have,” Senator Macdonald told the chamber during a debate on an unrelated bill.

“They don’t get particularly well paid.

“Someone has to start arguing for politicians, arguing for parliamentarians, saying why they’re there,” he said.

“Most parliamentarians, well those on this side, would have done infinitely better financially staying in their legal practice, staying in their business, staying in their veterinary practice, staying in their jobs they had before.

“But that’s not why they come into this chamber.”

He then flagged his intention to be a voice for parliamentarians in future Senate votes.

“I’ll be talking further on this again in another bill coming up when I’ll be opposing my government and again moving amendments,” he said.

The ABC understands Liberal MP Warren Entsch also questioned the abolition of the Life Gold Pass during the party room meeting on Tuesday.

Mr Entsch’s main criticism was that the changes were retrospective and unfair to long serving politicians who expected they would be able to continue to claim the benefit.

The scheme was first introduced in 1918 and originally provided unlimited domestic travel to former MPs.

Since 2002, the scope of the scheme has been gradually reduced, which sparked a court case involving four former politicians.

Barry Cunningham, Tony Lamb, John Moore and Barry Cohen lost a High Court challenge to the reductions in the scheme late last year.


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