Mark McGowan’s decision to receive a lucrative $250,000-a-year parliamentary pension when he retires has sparked a bizarre and heated confrontation in WA parliament.
The Western Australia premier is one of three politicians still eligible for the parliamentary pension scheme, which enables MPs elected before 1996 to collect 75 per cent of their salaries annually for the rest of their lives or a lump sum payment.
The scheme was axed by WA Parliament in 2000 in favour of superannuation benefits, with sitting MPs including Mr McGowan given the choice to remain on the previous payment plan or transition.
He will be eligible for the pension’s upper threshold – more than $250,000 a year from taxpayers, WA Today reports.
Opposition member Vince Catania questioned Mr McGowan on Tuesday about the pension and the superannuation – though the pair appeared to confuse the schemes during their tense exchange.
Mr Catania asked Mr McGowan whether he thought the ‘lucrative superannuation gravy train’ should be cancelled – when he should have been referring to the lucrative parliamentary pension scheme.
‘If we talk about being open, accountable and saving money for the state do you think the old parliamentary superannuation scheme, which is very lucrative, should end for those members of Parliament that are still on that old scheme?’ Mr Catania said during an estimates hearing on Tuesday.
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Mr McGowan responded by saying the Commonwealth Government oversaw superannuation law, prompting Mr Catania to then get his terminology right and cheekily ask whether the Federal Government also controlled the parliamentary pension.
At that point Mr McGowan became defensive, responding briskly: ‘I’ve answered your question’.
The parliamentary pension scheme is managed by the state, while the federal government is responsible for determining superannuation laws, such as member contributions.
However, any changes to the pension scheme must first be agreed to by the Commonwealth.
Mr Catania asked Mr McGowan to name the other two eligible MPs, but he declined to answer – saying he would not discuss individuals’ superannuation.
‘Wouldn’t do it for an employee of the state, not doing it in relation to anyone else,’ he said.
Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan and speaker Michelle Roberts are the two remaining Labor MPs who are eligible for the pension.
State budget papers show the scheme cost Western Australia $9.5million in 2020 – a cost expected to rise to $11.1 million over the next 12 months.Internet Explorer Channel Network