Why Mal Brough flew free
MAL Brough has defended chalking up nearly $19,000 worth of flights during a six-month period when he was not serving parliament.
Mr Brough, who hopes to oust Peter Slipper as Member for Fisher at the next election, racked up $10,638.67 in personal flights and $7522.56 in family travel from January 1 to June 30 last year.
The former Member for Longman lost his seat in November, 2007.
He said the flights were used as past of his Federal Government-supplied Gold Pass which entitled long-serving MPs and their spouses to a certain amount of free travel each year.
Mr Brough said he took the flights to conduct "charitable work in indigenous communities".
If it were up to him, he would see the system changed.
"I don't think this form of entitlement should be there," he said. "I'd be only too happy to see the end of it as it is not justifiable. It used to be unlimited but the Howard government capped it to 25 flights."
Special Minister of State Gary Gray has referred the Gold Pass scheme to the Remuneration Tribunal for review. A decision is expected before Christmas.
Mr Gray told ABC Radio that he was "well aware people see it as something that's an unjustified perk".
His views were shared by Coalition Leader Tony Abbott, who said it had "outlived its usefulness".
A newspaper reported this week that 72 former MPs who have been out of parliament for 10 years or more still benefited from the Gold Pass scheme at a cost to taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars.
What Life Gold Passes provide:
- Are available to federal MPs who serve 20 years in Canberra or six years as a minister
- Entitles those MPs to 25 return business class domestic flights a year
- Entitles those MPs' spouses to 25 domestic return trips if accompanying the pass holder
- Entitles former prime ministers to 40 flights a year
- Travel passes available to former MPs who do not qualify for a Gold Pass; MPs who serve once can receive 12 return trips for six months