Robert Schwarten
Robert Schwarten

Former MP travel entitlements to be phased out

FORMER Rockhampton MP Robert Schwarten said he did not care about the decision to scrap taxpayer-funded travel entitlements for pollies who are no longer elected members.

The Queensland Independent Remuneration Tribunal recommended on Tuesday that the age-old practice to be phased out over the next four years.

Travel entitlements for former MPs, including commercial air and rail benefits for their spouses, currently cost Queensland taxpayers $290,000 annually.

It equates to about $2000 per former MP who is eligible for the benefits.

But all that will change from December 31, 2018, with both benefits set to get the chop.

Mr Schwarten, who is enjoying retirement and has no plans to re-enter state politics, said what benefits elected members were afforded would always be a hot discussion topic.

He said he did not begrudge what MPs received as they earned every dollar they got.

"It is not a big deal for me. It is something that I have only used once," he said.

"The one thing I will say about politicians is they are used to giving up entitlements.

"There will always be sections of the community that believe MPs should not be paid at all."

However, documents tabled in State Parliament on Tuesday, revealed Mr Schwarten had racked up $8045.94 in taxpayer-funded travel between July, 2013, and June, 2014.

It was the third largest travel claim a former MP made over the past financial year.

Queensland Independent Remuneration Tribunal chair Professor Tim Brailsford said all former MPs had been consulted about the changes.

"Most former MPs argued a strong case to have the current arrangement stay in place," he said.

"A minority of them understood times had changed.

"A number of former MP submissions commented that the intrinsic value of the travel entitlements was symbolic as it recognised the contribution of former MPs beyond the economic value of the benefits."

FORMER MPS TRAVEL BREAKDOWN FOR 2012-13.

- The average cost for former MP travel (commercial air and rail) was $2,116 excluding GST based on 138 eligible former MPs.

- Only 11 former MPs chose not to accept any travel entitlement

- Fifty-eight former MPs received travel entitlements where the cost was less than $300 per individual

- Sixteen former MPs, or 11% of those eligible, claimed travel entitlements more than $5000.

- APN NEWSDESK.



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