John Howard takes his entitlement

By Leith van Onselen

John Howard was always the master of ‘middle-class welfare’, as evidenced by the questionable increases in the eligibility for the Aged Pension, baby bonuses, family tax benefits, and superannuation concessions under his watch.

Now it has been revealed by the Huffington Post that John Howard has claimed far more taxpayer expenses than Australia’s other living former Prime Ministers:

Former PMs are given “a number of facilities at the discretion of the prime minister of the day” and currently include car costs, office costs, telecommunications and travel costs…

In the latest disclosure of expenditure on the Department of Finance website (for the period from January to June 2016), it is revealed Howard, the second-longest serving PM, was the biggest spender among former leaders. Howard billed $152,970 in the six-month period, the bulk of which came from $112,434 in office facilities, nearly double that of the next highest amount in the same category (Rudd, on $63,210).

ScreenHunter_16917 Jan. 18 09.46

Howard’s expenses have consistently remained far higher than other former PMs in recent reporting periods…

Howard has claimed the most amount among the ex-PMs in six of the last seven disclosure periods…

Looking back further to expenses from the start of 2013, Howard alone racked up more than one million dollars in claims… The next highest amount is Julia Gillard, on $807,000, but $408,304 of that came from one single expense, an office fit out in 2014. Next on the list is Hawke with $566,000.

ScreenHunter_16918 Jan. 18 09.49

As a long time MPs and former Prime Ministers, the above retired leaders would already be receiving massive parliamentary pensions. So the obvious question arises: why are they charging taxpayers such outlandish costs? And why should they not also share in the burden of balancing the Budget?

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Leith van Onselen
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Comments

  1. I have no problem with parliamentarians being well paid and having taxpayer funded travel and other expenses (subject to not rorting it of course) while in office but once they’ve left the building that should be it. No entitlements to parliamentary pensions, expenses or the like.

    And if this mob had to work within the Superannuation system like the rest of us maybe they would understand it a bit better and we wouldn’t have embarrassing scenes where Sarah Hanson Young or Julie Bishop can’t answer even the most basic questions about taxing contributions.

    • The solution is simple. No trailing benefits at all. If we have to, increase the initial salary – that would give them more incentive to work harder in the role. If they can’t manage their budget for the rest of their retirement, then they had no chance at doing it for a country in the first place.

    • I beg to differ. They should be entitled to these deductions, but they and anyone else in their family circle are NOT permitted to join a board of a company for at minimal, 10 years. This ensures while in office, they have the country’s best interest at heart. If they have a crappy stint after their federal roles are over, they will resort to corruption.

  2. Don’t worry about John Howard. He’s old and probably will be dead soon.

    Gillard: $408,304 of that came from one single expense, an office fit out in 2014.

    Office fit outs are expensive but that’s a lot of money for one office.


    • Don’t worry about John Howard. He’s old and probably will be dead soon

      That’s a fair point. We must have also seen a nice drop in expenses from Fraser and Whitlam carking it over the last couple of years, and how much longer can Hawke go on for really?

      • Murdoch is old too, but still alive and kicking… Outliving many good people who passed away last year.

    • Gillards office would require some serious high tech security in it and that would be very expensive.

      A lot of coin can disappear pretty quickly when an ex PM’s safety and security is involved. Her office may even have a panic room in there, given the amount of vitriol she was subjected too during her time as PM.

  3. Howard, a distinguished Prime Minister, served the country in that role for nearly twelve years. He handed over a Budget in balance and no debt. Howard’s expenses $925k.

    Gillard, a far less distinguished Prime Minister, served the country in that role for three years. She presided over a fiscal shambles. Gillard’s expenses $807k.

    Howard has retained a public profile, is a keenly sought public speaker, an elder Statesman of Australian politics.

    Gillard has eschewed Australia preferring various good works with Clinton Foundation entities to which she so generously gifted public monies. She is not a keenly sought public speaker, not a doyenne of Australian politics.

    There is an should be some legacy such as expenses etc granted to those who served the nation at the highest level. Perhaps it should be capped. These expenses are likely far less than expenses incurred by various DFAT bureaucrats.

    But if we play the somewhat petty game of who deserves what, I’m more annoyed at Gillard’s hefty chunk of taxpayer dollar than Howard’s.

    • proofreadersMEMBER

      And Howard gave us, inter alia, the Iraqi and Afghan “adventures” with the US and the Joint Strike Fighter blank sheet of paper? That’s not to say the other lot didn’t bless us with their own “shockers”.

    • Be that as it may, Howard was a complete self-serving cnut who, in conjunction with his idiot mate Costello, bent the country over and reamed it without benefit of lube in order to retain political power. Massive increases to immigration to juice GDP, promulgation of the housing ponzi and lashings of middle class welfare and tax breaks. Many aspects of the shit situation we’re in today can be attributed to that nasty, pompous little mediocrity.

      It should never be forgotten that Howard was a sitting PM who lost his seat. Why anybody would pay a single zac to listen to that piece of political flotsam waffle on about nothing is beyond me.

      • I love the smell of Truth in the morning.
        Its just as good, if not better than a nice, strong, flat white.

      • +1. Howard and Costello used unprecedented windfall to keep buying votes. Not much thought was given to the future.

      • @LSWCHP – – well said -totally agree -Howard was a snivelling A$$ & should be off the Payroll along with the others.

      • Well said. Those two sacks of shit kick started two generations and counting from being able to access affordable housing, unforgivable.


    • Howard has retained a public profile, is a keenly sought public speaker,

      For which he is remunerated quite handsomely

    • I call bullshit: “These expenses are likely far less than expenses incurred by various DFAT bureaucrats.” got any data to back that up? And are you talking currently employed DFAT bureaucrats, who actually have a full-time role officially representing the country, or retirees like Howard and Gillard, who for the most part do not have any official role? Why don’t you just stick to the gist of this thread: pollies and ex-pollies and their sense of entitlement. And your contribution in this regard seems to be that you think it is okay for some ex-pollies to have their entitled snouts in the trough (just as long as they’re from your tribe).

      • I think it is acceptable that those that served the nation at the highest level are accorded additional benefits post Office. As I and others have suggested, perhaps these should be capped.

        Professor Judith Sloan:

        “But we should not think this gaming of the system is confined to politicians. Statutory office holders and DFAT staffers (and seconded officers from other departments including Treasury and Defence) are adept at maximizing private financial gains and pleasures while sending the bill to the taxpayer.

        It is a ironic in fact that Julie Bishop has ordered a review of the expenses of DFAT staff when overseas. The perks, depending on the level, include:

        Driver, cook and housekeeper are often included in the package;
        Car provided;
        Highly subsidised accommodation;
        Top level health and dental expenses are all covered;
        Regular trips back to Australia for the whole family (business class, of course);
        Boarding school fees depending on the age of children;
        Representation allowance;
        Free communications, including for private needs.

        DFAT staff game this system to an inch of its life having teeth capped while overseas, children’s orthodontic needs met, the timing of babies manipulated, school fees subsidised when returning to Canberra and the list goes on.”

        Mostly well-connected non-entities. Don’t forget we also pay $700k+ salaries to senior public servants in Canberra.

        I do agree there are too many snouts in the trough.

    • Howard is a War Criminal. A lying low life.
      This is exactly what you would expect of the man.
      Entitled to the hilt.

    • Gillard government wasn’t a shambles. Remember that
      1. she out negotiated Abbott to form government
      2. she got a decent amount of legislation through a hung parliament
      Compare that with Abbott and all his Captains’ calls, his class warfare first budget, his failure to heed the 6 months warning of his colleagues
      All federal governments recently are either a bit unstable either internally with rebel MPs or an undermining challenger or are reigned in by a proportionally representative senate. In one way it’s a reflection on how professional and campaigning are in both major parties, and of how part of the electorate is heartily sick of the major parties and career politicians.
      #drainthetrough

    • rob barrattMEMBER

      Did Gillard’s 807K include her house renovation expenses? – oh hang on, it was the union members who paid for that…. There also needs to be a way of factoring in the money that got her a professorship (FFS) at the University of Adelaide.

      It appears that half the cast of Eddie Obeid’s ski lodge club have been left out here. That must be because they’re not evil Liberals. No hint of bias in the article of course…

      • Rob I thought better of you than repeating that furphy.

        Despite being hauled over the coals and dragged through the muck, there has never been any evidence that happened. Seriously, unless you have proof the police and the mud rakers couldnt find, you’re repeating unsubstantiated gossip.

      • rob barrattMEMBER

        Well you are right Bubbley when you state that nothing was substantiated. It is of course most unfortunate (for the Crown) that crucial documents (By Slater & Gordon’s own admission) “went missing”. One thing I can say with certainty, documents do not “go missing” in institutions where paper documents such as mortgages have to be kept secure for many many years. I can only trust someone with access to documents at S & L got a good deal on those industrial grade document shredders so favored by the CFMEU.
        We must of course assume that she was fired by S & L for some reason, though I would imagine you would have to work hard to get fired for unethical practice after 8 years of service. The canny Scots allow for this sort of thing by having the verdict “Not Proven”. Unfortunately , as you state, I’ll have to settle for “Not Guilty” with “by virtue of document shredder” in small print in Appendix C part iv(a) ….

    • “There is an should be some legacy such as expenses etc granted to those who served the nation at the highest level.”

      No, there shouldn’t. Not a single one of my previous employers continued to pay me after I left.

    • Jumping jack flash

      Ah, Howard and his economic “miracle”.

      He “solved” the unemployment problem by redefining “unemployed” and then pushing thousands of people from long term unemployment to DSP. Pork barreling all the way. Australia had the largest percentage of “disabled” people in the free world. Check the stats.
      He “solved” the problem with the budget by selling off the last few remaining public services to the private sector, for which we still pay, and pay. And pay.
      He “solved” the problem with the budget by adding a GST, originally to abolish some other taxes, but almost all taxes remain, plus, of course, the GST.
      “Compulsory” private health insurance as a gift to his mates, the doctors.
      Forced down interest rates to blow the largest debt bubble ever, to prove that he wasn’t Keating.
      Then when things got out of control, instead of putting rates back up which may or may not have been possible at that point, he tried to stymie wages, but that didn’t work.

      The list goes on.

      Sleight of hand magician, possibly, but economic giant, never.

    • Mike,

      Howard was around at a time of record gov revenue and is responsible for the budget structural deficit via the super concessions etc.

  4. The issue with former PMs, just like current politicians, is we reimburse expenses that meet a critieria. We should go back and work out what we should pay for a year for a former PM to have an office, a little bit of travel etc and then SET THEM A BUDGET. Say, $500k per year. If honest Johnny wants more than that he can kick the tin himself or get someone to pay for his flights.

    • Let’s say $0. They’re no longer in a position of responsibility or authority. Why should their continuing lifestyle be funded after they lose their jobs?

      • Kit or Max?

        I was going to answer but check out JC below. He has got a good view on it as well. The arrangements are to allow former
        PMs to become elder statesman working in philanthropy and for Australia’s interests.

        From JC:
        That’s the intention of the policy. The idea is that that former PM’s will be working in philanthropy or other areas, that forward Australia’s interests, i.e. acting as elder statesmen, go between’s, negotiators, fixers etc. When they are using it to aid their personal business interests it is not in the spirit intended. I say a fair system is to just cap it at a dollar amount. Go over and you can dip into your own pocket.

  5. Gillard and Rudd did nothing for the homeless – just like Howard.

    Turnbull gave an income tax cut to the minority who get paid over $80k and nothing to voters who get paid $20k.

    But that is expected of the Tories.

    The Greens are a disgrace for not caring about poor voters.

    • “The Greens are a disgrace for not caring about poor voters”

      The Greens are the least honest political party and individuals in Australia’s history.

    • “The Greens are a disgrace for not caring about poor voters.”

      Today they’re in the media, not talking about curbing entitlements, but having an ICAC that can guide them better. They’re the same as the other parties but worse for pretending they’re not.

    • Ric and Jacob or is it Jic or Rob

      You obviously have a problem working out who / which has the biggest impact on our lives. Hint: it is not the Greens.

      To break the monotony of your responses and get closer to reality, at least only put your routine comments on a minority party in every 4th – 5 th post.

      Thanks,

      ITAg

  6. If these former PM”s are using these facilities to earn a commercial income, it is extremely obscene then these aren’t means tested.

    If it is Fraser-esque, and they need facilities to use their status for pro-bono work, fair enough. But the deputy sheriff of Bennelong uses this for his speaking circuit.

    He can use his speaking fees to pay for his own f*cking office.

    • “If it is Fraser-esque, and they need facilities to use their status for pro-bono work, fair enough.”

      That’s the intention of the policy. The idea is that that former PM’s will be working in philanthropy or other areas, that forward Australia’s interests, i.e. acting as elder statesmen, go between’s, negotiators, fixers etc. When they are using it to aid their personal business interests it is not in the spirit intended. I say a fair system is to just cap it at a dollar amount. Go over and you can dip into your own pocket.

  7. So shall I bill my employer for similar benefits once I retire? The ridiculousness is obvious, yet, ‘politicians’ (again) have a different set of rules. Arguments about elder statesman, service to the country – rubbish. We all serve in our own way, none is greater than another, and using that principle, there are those who are far more deserving. It’s a true illustration of their ‘character’ that they are all prepared to continue slurping up what they can from the public trough after their tenure has ended.

  8. the_bystanderMEMBER

    I’m glad John Howard is “comfortable and relaxed” living off the taxpayers’s teat – pity his tenure as PM left Australia in the shitty position we’re currently facing…

    • In the same way that it is better to have animals at a slaughterhouse “comfortable and relaxed” before slaughter so that the meat removed from the dead carcass is of better quality for eating.

  9. Former Presidents Act

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Former_Presidents_Act

    On face of it more circumspect than Former Prime Minister benefits (with possible exception of lifetime security detail). We pay our Prime Ministers more than the U.S. pays its Presidents and it continues after office. Our Prime Ministers are not addressed similarly to the President post office, so there goes some glory (Mr President).

    As said, I’m happy for Prime Ministers to accrue some benefits after Office. Currently these appear generous. Perhaps modify the benefits, with some greater benefit to those who hold Office for longer periods? Like PM Howard.

  10. Off topic, but does anybody have a clear memory of when the word “entitlement” became so commonly used? Maybe it’s my Alzheimers but I feel like it only became commonplace in the last 5 years or so.

    Can’t stand the term myself. Telling someone they’re “entitled” feeds into victim-complex thinking and social divisiveness.

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      Yeah, Bozo Joe Hockey ran with it and let it enter the lexicon.

      He’d know too. A dozen taxpayer funded trips to his farm at Malanda gave him a fair insight into it.

  11. Relevant StakeholderMEMBER

    Yeah it’s shit, but the more expensive is to bribe PMs the better. Potentially losing 20 years of future entitlements will limit their thoughts on committing treason.

    Mind you it hasn’t worked that we’ll:(

  12. John Howard. He’s the guy who could have given us a one trillion dollar sovereign wealth fund. Instead he gave us a two trillion dollar property bubble.

  13. Howard was a great Prime Minister. Blitzes everyone since Menzies. The SJWs on this site wouldn’t know a good thing if it was inserted in their fundamental orifice. Note, I didn’t say perfect. Surely GetUp has a rag you could blog on and leave this one to the adults?