John Howard topped the list with a bill of almost $300,000 for the 2010-11 financial year
John Howard topped the list with a bill of almost $300,000 for the 2010-11 financial year Scott Powick

Former PMs cost nearly $1m for year

FIVE of Australia's surviving former prime ministers cost taxpayers almost $1 million in travel and office expenses in the space of 12 months.

John Howard, Australia's second longest-serving prime minister, topped the list with a bill of almost $300,000 for the 2010-11 financial year, documents released by the Department of Finance and Deregulation revealed.

Entitlements for the five former prime ministers totalled $984,880 for the 12 months.

On top of their generous parliamentary pensions, former prime ministers are entitled to taxpayer-funded support, "in recognition of public service", in the form of domestic airfares - for themselves and family - an office and staff and a car.

Kevin Rudd, who was famously dumped by the Labor Party in 2010 during his first term as prime minister, will enjoy the same perks when he leaves the parliament.

In 2001 Mr Howard, as prime minister, announced entitlements of former prime ministers, governors-general and Life Gold Pass holders would be made public every six months.

The former Liberal PM's Sydney office cost more than $255,000 to run for the 2010-11 period.

Mr Howard racked up a travel bill of almost $38,000, with that figure comprising an almost even split between car costs and airfares.

Malcolm Fraser was next on the list with taxpayers forking out more than $255,000 for his expenses.
Mr Fraser, who this week turned 82, spent $194,954 on his office and almost $34,000 in car costs. His airfares totalled $12,269.

The man Mr Fraser successfully deposed as prime minister in 1975, Gough Whitlam, cost taxpayers the least of all the former prime ministers with a total spend of $137,832.

Fellow former Labor MPs Paul Keating ($149,423) and Bob Hawke ($144,603) also came in well below their conservatives counterparts.

Office costs formed the bulk of the Labor trio's costs for the year.

Family travel costs for the former prime ministers came in at $15,930, although Mr Whitlam did not claim any family travel for the year.

Mr Fraser accounted for more than half of the family travel total with expenses of $9648.

The more than 200 Life Gold Pass holders, who along with their spouses are entitled to domestic airfares, cost taxpayers more than $1.279 million for the year. Of that figure spousal travel accounted for $360,430.

Among the biggest spenders were former Liberal Party MPs John Herron ($37,921) and Geoffrey Prosser ($32,758) and the former ALP member for Maribyrnong in Victoria Alan Griffiths ($30,337).

Former Howard government minister Mal Brough, who has signalled his intention to seek pre-selection in the Sunshine Coast seat of Fisher, had $10,403 in expenses for the year.

What the five surviving former PMs costs taxpayers in 2010-11*:

  • John Howard...$297,765.27
  • Malcolm Fraser...$255,256.10
  • Paul Keating...$149,423.47
  • Bob Hawke...$144,603.30
  • Gough Whitlam...$137,832.20

*Entitlements paid by the Department of Finance and Deregulation. Figures are totals for 2010-11 financial year and taken from documents tabled in parliament.