Legislation to change the Life Gold Pass entitlement is currently before the Parliament.
Former Senators and Members who were members of the Parliament before 6 March 2012 and who completed the relevant qualifying period of service in the Federal Parliament as provided by the Determination made by the Remuneration Tribunal on Members of Parliament - Entitlements in force at the time the Senator or Member left the Parliament1, are entitled to a Life Gold Pass.
Senators and Members who were members of the Parliament on 6 March 2012, and who complete the relevant qualifying period of service by the first time they leave the Parliament after 6 March 2012, are also entitled to a Life Gold Pass.
The Life Gold Pass scheme is closed to:
- new members entering the Federal Parliament on or after 6 March 2012; and
- former members who had not already qualified for a Life Gold Pass, who re-enter the Parliament on or after 6 March 2012.
The main elements of the entitlement are summarised below. Definitions come from the Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act 2002 (the LGP Act). References below to a Life Gold Pass holder exclude former Prime Ministers and their spouses or de facto partners and surviving spouses or surviving de facto partners, to whom different entitlements apply.
Number of Trips
- From 1 July 2012, a Life Gold Pass holder is entitled, in a financial year, to a maximum of 10 domestic return trips.
A domestic return trip means a trip that is:
- wholly within Australia; and
- not for a commercial purpose; and
- on a scheduled transport service or on a combination of scheduled transport services.
- An unused entitlement cannot be carried forward from one year to a later year; nor can an entitlement be used before the year in which the entitlement accrues.
- A return trip commenced in one financial year but completed in the next financial year is taken to be in the year the trip commenced.
- Where a Senator or Member retires part way through a financial year, a pro rata adjustment applies to the number of trips available to the Life Gold Pass holder and spouse or de facto partner for the remainder of that financial year. A pro rata adjustment also applies to the number of spouse or de facto partner trips if a Life Gold Pass holder marries or declares a de facto relationship part way through a financial year.
- Wholly within Australia: travel under the Life Gold Pass entitlement is limited to domestic travel. It does not include travel to external Territories (including Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Norfolk and Christmas Island). A return trip must start and end at the same place within Australia, and the destination and any stopovers must be within Australia.
- A trip is a return journey from one destination (A) to another (B), with the fare not to exceed the cost of a business class airfare for the most reasonable and usual route. A Life Gold Pass holder may stopover at an en route destination (C) but, if so, it is counted as follows:
- if the stopover is for less than 24 hours, then it does not affect the trip count;
- if the stopover is for more than 24 hours, then it counts as an additional 0.5 (a half) domestic return trip; and
- if the stopover is for more than 24 hours, but an ‘exceptional circumstance’ exists as set out in the Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Regulations 2002, then it does not affect the trip count.
- Commercial purpose means a purpose relating to the derivation of financial gain or reward, whether as a board member, an office-holder, an employee, a self‑employed person or otherwise.
- Scheduled transport service means a scheduled air, rail, bus, tram, ferry or vehicular service.
- Spouse, in relation to a Life Gold Pass holder, means the Life Gold Pass holder’s legally married husband or legally married wife.
- De facto partner, in relation to a Life Gold Pass holder, has the meaning given by the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (see attached excerpt).
- Surviving spouse or surviving de facto partner is the spouse or de facto partner of a Life Gold Pass holder immediately before Life Gold Pass holder died and who was named in a nomination for the purpose of travelling under the Life Gold Pass entitlement.
Spouse or De Facto Partner Travel
- From 1 July 2012, the spouse or de facto partner of a Life Gold Pass holder is entitled to a maximum of 10 domestic return trips per year, so long as the spouse or de facto partner is nominated under the LGP Act and each trip is for the purpose of accompanying or joining the Life Gold Pass holder. Spouse or de facto partner travel must be for non-commercial purposes. A spouse or de facto partner may accompany or join the Life Gold Pass holder who has travelled but not used the Life Gold Pass.
- To nominate a spouse or de facto partner for the purpose of travelling under the Life Gold Pass entitlement, please complete Form 79: Spouse / De facto Partner information and eligibility form and return it to Ministerial and Parliamentary Services (M&PS). Form 79 should also be used to notify M&PS of changed relationship circumstances.
Surviving Spouse or De Facto Partner
- The surviving spouse or surviving de facto partner of a Life Gold Pass holder is entitled to travel at Government expense on a maximum of 10 domestic return trips in the 12 month period beginning at the time of the death of the former Senator or Member and to a maximum of 5 domestic return trips in the next succeeding 12 month period, so long as each trip is completed before the end of that 12 month period.
Class of Travel
- A Life Gold Pass holder and his or her spouse or de facto partner are entitled to travel at the class of travel determined for a sitting Senator or Member (the fare is not to exceed the cost of a business class airfare for the most reasonable and usual route between the departure and destination points).
- Should a Life Gold Pass holder, spouse or de facto partner travel at a lower class than as determined, any savings cannot be offset against the cost of other fares (e.g. fares for another person or for unaccompanied travel by the spouse or de facto partner of the Life Gold Pass holder), other services (e.g. meals or accommodation) or to extend the 10 trip entitlement limit of the Life Gold Pass holder, spouse or de facto partner.
- It is government policy that entitlees use airline loyalty points that they have accrued at Commonwealth expense to offset the cost of further Commonwealth funded travel. Travel by a Life Gold Pass holder and his or her spouse or de facto partner who chooses to use airline loyalty points in accordance with government policy is counted against the trip count.
- As of 1 July 2010, airline loyalty points no longer accrue when travelling at Commonwealth expense.
- Details of the usage of airline loyalty points accrued as a result of travel at Commonwealth expense must be reported to M&PS. A schedule to facilitate reporting of such usage is included with the reports of expenditure under the entitlement provided at six monthly intervals to Life Gold Pass holders.
- The LGP Act provides that a person is disqualified from Life Gold Pass travel if a superannuation order is made under the Crimes (Superannuation Benefits) Act 1989 in relation to a person convicted of a corruption offence.
Liability to Repay
- If a person travels at Commonwealth expense outside entitlement, that person is liable to repay the Commonwealth the expenses incurred.
Costs Outside of Entitlement
- Costs which are not within the Life Gold Pass entitlement include:
- costs in excess of the business class airfare (or economy class airfare where a business class airfare is not published for the destination point) for the most reasonable and usual route between departure and destination points;
- transport by COMCAR, hire car or taxi, including to/from airport/railway station;
- parking costs;
- the transport of vehicles by scheduled services; and
- any other costs not directly related to travel by scheduled services (e.g. accommodation, meals or lounge membership costs).
Travel Profile Number
- Life Gold Pass holders retain the travel profile number issued by the M&PS’ contracted travel service provider in order to book travel. Bookings can be made by telephoning the travel service provider.
Cancellation of Travel
- Payment for travel is made by M&PS on the basis of electronic tickets issued. In some circumstances, electronic tickets are issued and a charge made even though the travel is not taken. In the event that travel plans are cancelled, it is particularly important that the booking(s) are cancelled with the travel service provider as soon as possible so that refunds/credits are obtained.
- If the booking(s) are not cancelled, the value of the travel is a cost to the Commonwealth and will be recorded as trip(s) against the Life Gold Pass entitlement.
Verification and Reporting of Travel Expenditure
- Expenditure by Life Gold Pass holders is publicly disclosed on a six-monthly basis in the report on former Parliamentarians’ expenditure on entitlements paid by the Department of Finance (Finance). The report is published on the Finance website, in conjunction with the report on the expenditure on Parliamentarians’ entitlements paid by Finance.
- Life Gold Pass holders are provided with a report of their travel and given an opportunity to check the details of their entitlement use contained in the report and certify that travel was used for non-commercial purposes before it is published. At the same time, Life Gold Pass holders will be asked to advise of any flights taken using airline loyalty points accrued from travel at Commonwealth expense.
Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT)
- M&PS is required to provide former Parliamentarians with a payment summary that shows the grossed-up value of fringe benefits provided by M&PS in the previous FBT year. This covers scheduled transport costs for the Life Gold Pass holder and spouse, de facto partner, surviving spouse or surviving de facto partner. Before issuing the payment summary, M&PS will provide details for review by the Life Gold Pass holder, surviving spouse or surviving de facto partner.
Change of Address
- Life Gold Pass holders are asked to notify M&PS promptly of any address changes so that they receive correspondence regarding their travel reports and other information concerning the Life Gold Pass entitlement without delay.
- If you wish to receive information and reports from M&PS via email, you can nominate an email address/es by completing Form 121: Nomination of Email Address and returning it to M&PS.
- The Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act 2002 (the LGP Act) and Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Regulations 2002 (the Regulations) set out the provisions of the entitlement.
If you have any questions concerning the Life Gold Pass entitlement, please contact the Entitlements Management Branch.
1. As at June 2012, the Determination is Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2012/04: Members of Parliament – Entitlements.