Friday, 10 February 2017

The "Gold Pass" should

be retained for former Prime Ministers and Ministers who have served a full term - for use if they are not being paid to do something official or semi-official.
For Upoverites - the "Gold Pass" was a scheme whereby retired politicians with a certain length of service could get ten free air trips in a year as long as they were not for business purposes.
Downunder is a very big country in terms of physical size. Flying is an economical way of getting around. Former Prime Ministers and Ministers rarely fully "retire". They are often called on to go to places and do things. Sometimes they get expenses for it and sometimes they don't. It often costs them something anyway - and of course it costs them time. 
I know two former Senators - on opposite sides of the house - who still perform public duties. One of them gave up an afternoon for me recently. It was something I genuinely appreciate. She is still a busy person and I know it wasn't just the afternoon. She had to get up and say things and there were some negotiations beforehand. It was at least a day and a half of her time. Of course I said "thank you". I know she didn't have to travel too far but  I made the effort later and pedalled over to her and gave her some biscuits I had made. She had given me the afternoon as a friend but, for me, it was much more than that.
But I wonder how many people just think "it would be nice to get Mr or Ms or Dr or Mrs or...someone to open this or sit on that committee or attend our function or....". They think "so and so is retired now so they must have plenty of time" and they sometimes have false ideas about how wealthy they are. Perhaps our present Prime Minister does have money stashed away but my friends don't. They have a parliamentary pension. Yes, in the scheme of things it is generous - but not that generous.
And why shouldn't they get their expenses? We tend to treat them a bit the way we treat writers. There is the idea that all writers are rich and they have plenty of time and they don't need to be paid to come and talk to anyone. It's just part of their job for goodness' sake. Really? 
I think we need to be more aware of these things. We need to think about what the other person is giving up - not just to us but to everyone. 

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