$300,000 on offices, $40,000 on chauffeur-driven cars and $4K phone bills: How much YOU are paying for our last six prime ministers and three surviving wives in retirement
- Former leaders can claim various expenses to pay for costs of ongoing work
- Taxpayers shelled out $365,944.5 from January to March 2021 for six leaders
- Surviving spouses can also claim and two wives charged for home phone bills
- Mr Turnbull is the most expensive, claiming $90,711.12 in three month period
Australian taxpayers shelled out almost $400,000 over three months to pay for the expenses of six former prime ministers and three surviving wives.
As a reward for their service and to help pay for ongoing work, former leaders can claim for their office rent and administration, domestic flights, chauffeur-driven cars and even phone bills.
A report recently released by the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority shows taxpayers shelled out $365,944.5 from January to March 2021 to Malcolm Turnbull, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, John Howard and Paul Keating.
Malcolm Turnbull (pictured with wife Lucy) is the most expensive former leader, claiming $90,711.12 in the three month period
Tony Abbott (pictured with his family after his 2013 election win) claimed the biggest phone bill at $1,187.49
Under rules which allow surviving spouses of late leaders to claim expenses, Malcolm Fraser’s wife Tamie claimed a $95.32 phone bill, John Gorton’s wife Nancy claimed a $293.65 phone bill – even though her husband left office 50 years ago in 1971 – while Bob Hawke’s wife Blanche d’Alpulget didn’t claim anything.
Mr Turnbull is the most expensive former leader, claiming $90,711.12 in the three month period.
Mr Howard’s total bill was the second highest at $77,063.09 and Mr Abbott’s was third at $66,051.25.
Over the year to April 2021, Mr Turnbull claimed $394,703, followed by Mr Howard at $337,234, then Tony Abbott at $199,650.
Julia Gillard claimed the least, charging taxpayers $113,208 over the year.
The biggest expense is the leaders’ current offices, with taxpayers forking out a total of $310,656.26 for the six former prime ministers from January to March.
Mr Turnbull’s Sydney office bill was the most expensive, costing $85,830.82 to rent.
The 66-year-old, who is said to be worth around $200million, also billed taxpayers $18,000.63 for chauffeured Comcar trips he took in 2018 but didn’t claim at the time, as well as $1,759.27 for leasing a private-plated car.
Julia Gillard claimed the least over the year to April 2021, charging taxpayers $113,208
He also charged taxpayers $2,348 for subscriptions to various news websites including a $174.99 donation to The Guardian, a free left-wing news website.
For trips taken in the three-month period, Mr Howard claimed the highest car bill at $5,622.80, closely followed by Kevin Rudd at $5,410.60 and then Julia Gillard at $3,116.56.
Including Mr Turnbull’s backdated claims, the total bill for car costs for the six former prime ministers came to $39,311.58.
Mr Abbott claimed the biggest phone bill at $1,187.49 while Kevin Rudd declined to claim anything for his calls and texts.
Since when have former PMs been allowed to claim expenses?
A travel ticket called the ‘Life Gold Pass’ was first created in 1918 to provide unlimited rail travel for serving and former politicians.
In 1990 Bob Hawke passed the Parliamentary Entitlements Act which set out politicians’ salaries and expenses and the provision of entitlements to former Members and Senators.
The Act included included an entitlement to a revamped ‘Life Gold Pass’ – which meant unlimited domestic travel for eligible retiring parliamentarians.
In 2002 John Howard passed the Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act which imposed a cap of 25 flights for former politicians and 40 flights for former prime ministers each year.
It also allowed former prime ministers to claim ‘a number of facilities at the discretion of the prime minister of the day’ – such as domestic travel, car costs, office facilities, phone bills and family travel.
In 2017 Malcolm Turnbull scaled back the ‘Life Gold Pass’, only allowing former prime ministers access to the scheme.