A payment arrangement could see outgoing state politicians paid nearly $300,000 while they look for a new job – with taxpayers spending millions to fund it.
The proposal, before the Victorian Remuneration Tribunal, would ensure that Victorian MPs who resign or lose an election receive a generous payout.
They would be eligible for an initial resettlement allowance of $96,000 – the equivalent of six months of their $192,000 annual salary, the Announce sun reported.
State MPs who manage to find employment within that six-month period would be responsible for advising parliament to stop their pay.
Those who cannot find a new job within six months can apply for two more rounds of $96,000, provided they are actively seeking employment.
Victorian MPs who resign or are voted out can receive up to $300,000 if they look for a new job on a payment proposal (pictured, Victorian Parliament)
There are exceptions for MPs who have ‘medical, mental health or care duties that prevent them from finding a job’.
In total, a former MP could earn up to $288,000 under the proposed scheme over 18 months.
The submission was made by Deakin University to the Renumeration Tribunal, which sets pay for politicians.
The university was commissioned by former MPs and the Victorian Parliament to assess the transition from public life for politicians.
Researchers found that state politicians struggled to get work after they resigned or were voted out.
To support them, the university recommended the payment proposal during the transitional period.
Deakin’s modeling suggests that if there were a large number of outgoing MPs in any given election, the cost to taxpayers could amount to more than $4 million in “divorce payments.”
However, if at least 20 percent of them waited the full six months to find a new job, it would cost taxpayers up to $4.29 million.
A divorce payment system already exists, which is only provided to dependents of an MP who dies in office; a Member of Parliament who is not seeking re-election; or otherwise ceases to be a Member of Parliament, provided there is no question of corrupt conduct.
In their submission, Deakin researchers used interviews with former MPs to bolster their case for the payments.
‘I was unemployed. I was the main breadwinner of the family. Suddenly things that you take for granted, like paying the mortgage, all get a bit shaky, so it was hard,” said a former MP.
The entry also describes how mentally exhausting losing a seat can be.
Backbench MPs get about $192,000 a year, while Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews (pictured) gets about $465,000 – the highest of any state leader in Australia
Departing state MPs would be eligible for a $96,000 resettlement allowance. If they don’t find a job in six months, they can apply for two more rounds of pay (stock image)
“I was in such terrible headspace that I probably didn’t apply as much as I should have, but I don’t think I got interviews for that reason,” a former MP told investigators.
“I’ve had friends who’ve been in this position before over the years, when you’re depressed and on the backburner you don’t get traction with potential employers because I think there’s an atmosphere around that,” a former Member of Parliament to the researchers.
It comes as the Renumeration Tribunal is considering salary increases for state politicians this year.
State MPs received a 2.75 percent pay raise last year — the equivalent of $5,000.
Backbench MPs are currently paid about $192,000 a year, while Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews receives about $465,000 – the highest of any state leader in Australia.
The Remuneration Tribunal will accept submissions until the end of this month before making decisions on MPs’ remuneration.